LSBU academic discusses the rise of acupunctureIan Appleyard, Course Director for Acupuncture at London South Bank University, recently discussed the rise of traditional Chinese medicine on BBC World radio, in conjunction with a Wellcome Trust event exploring alternative medicine in the Western world
'To what extent has Western medicine looked Eastward', 'What happens when science comes up against other belief systems?', were amongst the questions discussed at the Wellcome Trust's event 'The Parts and the Whole' and in the BBC interview.
Acupuncture was first brought to the Western world in the 17th and 18th century and has since then become an increasingly used method to treat a range of chronic health conditions. Despite its growing popularity in the Western world, acupuncture is yet to become fully integrated in the UK health system, as Ian explains:
"In the UK, acupuncture operates fairly independently. Unlike China, the UK doesn't have too many acupuncturists who work inside a hospital, and there are ways in which acupuncture could be better integrated into our national healthcare system."
How does Western medicine coexist alongside traditional medicine?
There is growing acceptance in Britain that medical professionals should incorporate non-conventional practices like acupuncture and Ian explains that more doctors are choosing to learn the trade:
"Some doctors, although fully trained in Western medicine, start to delve into a variety of alternative medicines. Some chose to undertake weekend courses in acupuncture and use it in a rather mechanical way, whereas others will take the time to do whole three-year programmes."
Since its arrival in the Western world, acupuncture has been subject to much debate, but Ian explains that "there is much greater acceptance now of acupuncture than when I first became interested in it 20 years ago – and that is primarily based on positive patient reports to local GPs."
LSBU in collaboration with the Confucius Institute for Traditional Chinese Medicine (CITCM) offers a three-year BSc (Hons) in Acupuncture. The course provides students with a strong foundation in the theory and application of acupuncture, as well as extensive clinical experience and grounding in Chinese language and culture.
Listen to Ian Appleyard on BBC radio's World Update (commences 14 minutes in, available on demand until Thursday 30 January).