ICMART Education Committee

By Dr. Siddhartha Popat, MD, Bad Honnef, Germany June 21st 2018
Chair of Education chapter 

The mission and vision of the Lexicon of Education is to gather information on how medical acupuncture is thought worldwide. Medical acupuncture is to be integrated in the education of medical doctors in all appropriate specialties and therefore has to be evidence based.  Clinical knowledge, correct diagnostic skills and a deep knowledge on when to safely use medical acupuncture alone, or when to combine with other treatment methods or when to refer completely should be the standard of fully trained and licensed medical doctors. 

There is a vast difference all around the world about the acceptance of medical acupuncture.  In this development our scientific chapter will help due to the great evidence on the good effect of medical acupuncture. 

Having modern, structured education standards will be the foundation to improve the acceptance on top of scientific evidence.  

In the last years Dr. Marshal Sager, MD, USA has put together the ICMART Lexicon. He developed a wonderful database how acupuncture is thought where and how.

We will not touch this historical document. 

Our wish is to integrate the new ICMART members information and to learn from countries like Brazil, where medical acupuncture probably has the status we would all be happy with in the rest of the world.  To provide ICMART members with information from other countries shall help in case of (political) opposition by “scientific” colleagues. 

In the long run the idea of ICMART is of course to establish standards of medical acupuncture education in the world. There is no alternative to ICMART in pursuing this aim.

This work will integrate in the ICMART Training Accreditation System.

Training Requirements
Educational Elements Core Aspects of Training

Western medical anatomy and physiology relevant to medical acupuncture

By its nature, acupuncture is an invasive medical paradigm or technique. Consequently, it is imperative that anyone practicing acupuncture be well versed in the somatic, visceral, neurophysiologic and neuro-anatomical implications of thrusting needles into various body points. As a consequence of Western medical training, a physician has a thorough and extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology. Furthermore, as physician healthcare providers, we are held to a higher degree of diagnostic and therapeutic accountability. This increased standard further underlines our expertise and responsibility. These common medical elements added to appropriate acupuncture education and training distinguishes us as Medical Acupuncturists.


Acupuncture points and different ways of point selection

Acupuncture point technique and location selection is dictated by the various paradigms, methods and technical therapeutic applications of acupuncture in general and by the practitioner in particular. Segmental considerations, applicable neuro-physiological pathways, traditional concepts and myofascial trigger points are but a few of the particular acupuncture approaches that will influence and determine point selection.

Substantial commonality and significant diversity exist within ICMART. Our diversity reflects national and regional practice preferences as well as individual practitioner custom. Our commonalities include our Western medical knowledge, our additional acupuncture education and training and our devotion to the health and well-being of our patients. These common goals will lead us to mutual understanding and consensus.


Safe needling and other techniques

All Western physicians are knowledgeable and trained in safe needling techniques. Of course, sterile and preferably, disposable, acupuncture needles should be used. The acupuncture site should be clean and free of obvious infection. Additionally, whenever bleeding occurs, proper care should be taken to prevent the transmission of infection.

The application of laser and/or electro stimulation requires special training. Appropriate considerations as to indications and contra-indications should be made when utilizing these modalities and techniques.


‘Proper’ training

Each physician member of an ICMART affiliate organization should possess an active medical license. Additionally, above and beyond his/her Western medical education, said physician should have undergone formal acupuncture training in the application, appropriate use and integration of Medical Acupuncture into his/her biomedical practice and be legally permitted to perform Medical Acupuncture in the jurisdiction in which he/she practices.


Some form of testing/evaluation/examination

It is recommended and expected that all physicians formally trained in Medical Acupuncture will have undergone some type of testing or appropriate evaluation so as to assure the public and their colleagues of their competency to practice.


Use of acupuncture in Western medicine

The utilization of acupuncture as a medical paradigm or technique in the Western clinic, by a trained physician, can be very effective. Medical Acupuncture can be use adjunctive to, or as a substitute for, traditional bio-pharmacology or surgery. When employed adjunctively, Medical Acupuncture can compliment and enhance the effect of drugs, reduce their side effects, and decrease their dosage. Frequently, when a patient fails to respond to multiple medication or surgical interventions, Medical Acupuncture alone can be effective. Medical Acupuncture is used extensively with patients: in acute and chronic pain, as well as in those with functional and reversible organic disorders. Therefore, a Western trained physician, who is also trained in Medical Acupuncture, can offer his/her patient?s either/or a combination of Western medical treatment and Medical Acupuncture ? the best of both worlds.



The goal of promoting scientifically sound inquiries into the clinical efficacy, physiological mechanisms, patterns of use, and theoretical foundations of acupuncture remain, in general, elusive. This is because acupuncture treatment is a procedure, not a drug. It is akin to surgery or a psychotherapy session. For this reason it has been very difficult to subject acupuncture to the gold standard of randomized blinded trials, and almost impossible to conduct truly double-blind trials. However, the experience of physicians who are conducting research into bio-pharmacology could provide crossover methodologies that could be utilized to facilitate acupuncture research in the future.

We must recognize a pluralistic approach to research methodology. This would include non-randomized studies, empirical observation, case studies, evaluations of practice-based data, and practice-based outcomes research. Also included would be epidemiological and surveillance studies, behavioural and quality of life studies, meta-analysis, etc. Of course, future investigators in acupuncture research must follow appropriate research protocols and provide subjects with the same protections as in conventional medical research.

Concepts of Medical Acupuncture

under construction

Contents of Education

under construction

Organisation of Training

under construction

News of the Education Chapter

Current Members of the Committee

Chair: Dr. Silvia Elenkova, MD, Bulgaria

Dr. Tomas Dawid, MD, Uruguay
Dr. Francisco Lozano, MD, Mexico
Hedi Luxenburger, MD, Germany
Dr. Chun-Lee Oie-Tan, MD, The Netherlands
Dr. Paola Poli, MD, Italy 
Dr. Marcia Yamamura, MD, Brazil 

  • education@icmart.org