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16. What is the difference between traditional Chinese acupuncture, five elements acupuncture and medical acupuncture?

Here at the Northern College of Acupuncture you will learn traditional Chinese acupuncture which has been continually developing in China (and more recently in the West) for over 2,000 years as part of a Chinese system of health sometimes called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which also includes Chinese herbal medicine and tuina massage. Chinese medicine is rooted in two millennia of thinking and clinical experience in China, giving it great strength and depth. It is a wide-ranging set of approaches to understanding and diagnosing disease, leading to diverse treatment options. This allows practitioners to draw on a varied repertoire to choose the best approach for each individual patient. Our teaching is based on Chinese medicine because we believe this produces the most well-rounded practitioners, able to work flexibly and effectively in the West.

Five Element Acupuncture is a self-contained system of acupuncture practice which derives from the teachings of J.R. Worsley in the UK, and can be learned in its own right. Its basis is the theoretical construct of the five elements – Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood – which then frame diagnosis and treatment of patients. Five element theory is also an aspect of TCM and is covered in the NCA’s acupuncture syllabi. In year three of our courses you will receive a guest lecture from a leading five element practitioner to help you appreciate the similarities and divergences between the five element system and TCM.

Medical Acupuncture is practised by orthodox healthcare practitioners such as doctors, physios and nurses who take a short course. These courses teach particular acupuncture point formulas to help relieve pain and tension. They do not teach treatment of the “whole person” but rather treatment of specific symptoms, and medical acupuncture is normally used in conjunction with other treatments.

Northern college of acupuncture, Lara McClure             Lara McClure -

“Traditional Chinese acupuncture is the diverse and exciting system that we teach here at the NCA. Our graduates often go on to study specific areas of their discipline in further depth once they are established in practice, and indeed the study of Chinese medicine can be considered a lifetime's endeavour.”