Category Archives: Acupuncture Indications

Indications from DÄGfA

The German Medical Association for Acupuncture e.V. (DÄGfA) with around 8,300 members is a self-regulated professional institution for medical doctors that seek education in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Founded in 1951 it is with the AGTCM one of the oldest German acupuncture societies.

They offer medical doctors a training path to practice acupuncture that is covered by the national German health insurances. A medical doctor in Germany must go through a 200 UE (UE= Study Credits roughly the equivalent of one hour of teaching in a classroom setting). The attendance of courses must be spread over 24 months and doctors will need to pass an exam at the Ärztekammer and its local medical examination board for qualifying doctors beyond their GP (General Practitioner)-status to be able to advertise their acupuncture offering to the public.

The DÄGFA lists the following indications for acupuncture on their website:

  • Shoulder and arm pain
  • Back pain
  • Headache migraine
  • Shoulder and arm pain
  • Elbow pain
  • Myofascial pain
  • Sleep disorders
  • Hay fever

What it takes for a doctor to practice acupuncture

More information on the training curriculum for medical doctors to practice acupuncture in their clinics where the treatment is covered by the national health insurances:

Acupuncture training

A doctor needs 120 units of further training with practical exercises (Teaching is divided into curriculum units G1 to G15, according to Sections A-E of the course book of the German Medical Association) and then another 60 units practical acupuncture treatment as well as 20 units being taught in a case-based seminar setting.

For the 60 units practical acupuncture treatment and 20 units of case-based teaching, the doctors may attend so-called case seminars as part of the practical courses (GP). The block A Basics (G1-G3) must be completed before G4 to G15 can be taken

Between the first course (G1) and the last practical course (GP) must be at least 2 years. After completing the 200 hours, doctors may then apply for the exam at their local medical examination board. There is a 1-day preparatory / refresher course available for this exam.

The exam consists of a written part (10 open-ended questions) and practical supervised discussion / examination in a small group setting.

Other additional training needed

  • 80 units in psychosomatic basic care
  • 80 units in special pain therapy

Indications from the SMS

The SMS – Societas Medicinae Sinensis (International Society for Chinese Medicine) is self-regulated professional body headquartered in Munich. Its purpose is the promotion of Chinese Medicine. The SMS was founded in 1978 by Prof. Manfred Porkert – who held a a PHD in Sinology & Philosophy. He was joined by Prof. Dr. med. Carl-Hermann Hempen – who is a medical doctor and professor of TCM at Munich University. He still runs his own clinic in Munich.

The SMS has divided the field of Chinese Medicine into two groups:
a) Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine – for this it only allows medical doctors or medical students to attend its course offerings.
b) Tuina, Dietetics and Qigong – which is open to all other healthcare professionals (like Heilpraktiker, midwives, physiotherapists etc.)

The SMS lists the following indications for Chinese Medicine:

Internal diseases:
Allergies, hay fever, bronchial asthma
Acute viral infections
Chronic bronchitis
Irritable bowel, irritable stomach
Food allergies
Chronic diarrhea
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (IBD)
Chronic hepatopathies
Functional heart disease
Vegetative cardiac arrhythmia
Latent hypertension
Rheumatic diseases
TCM as a concomitant therapy for cancer

Neurological and psychiatric diseases:
Idiopathic facial palsy
Stroke rehabilitation
Multiple sclerosis
Minimal cerebral dysfunction
Developmental disorders in childhood
Sleep disorders
Depression and anxiety disorders
Psychovegetative states of exhaustion
Concomitant therapy for addictions

Pediatric diseases:
Increased infections
Chronic runny nose
Tendency to constipation
Functional abdominal pain
Allergies (neurodermatitis, asthma, hay fever, food)
Restlessness and trouble sleeping

Chronic pain conditions:
Back pain, sciatica, lumbar spine syndrome, cervical spine syndrome
Joint pain (knee, hip, shoulder, elbow)
Tendinosis like tennis or golfer’s elbow
Neuralgia, trigeminal neuralgia, intercostal neuralgia, zoster neuralgia
Phantom pain, stump pain
Tension headaches and migraines
Fibromyalgia and rheumatic pain

Gynecology and childbirth preparation:
Menstrual cycle disorders
Chronic genito-vaginal inflammation
Fertility disorders
Pregnancy sickness
Oedema and pain in pregnancy
Birth relief
Birth preparation
Shortening the duration of the birth
Climacteric syndrome

Skin diseases:
Psoriasis vulgaris
Chronic eczema
Herpes zoster
Herpes simplex

Urological diseases:
Functional disorders of the urogenital tract
Irritable bladder
Urinary incontinence
Nocturnal enuresis

Eye diseases:
Juvenile myopia
Sicca syndrome
Incipient macular degeneration

ENT diseases:
Allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
Acute and chronic viral infections
Globe feeling
Loss of smell
Recurrent otitis

Indications from BMAS

The British Medical Acupuncture Society BMAS was founded in 1980 as an association purely for medical doctors interested in acupuncture. Since 2002, membership has been open to most statutory regulated healthcare professionals. Acupuncture in the UK has not been predominantly the domain of statutory healthcare professionals, but acupuncture practitioners who obtained their training and experience from a variety of teaching providers (like small private schools and colleges providing teaching in Chinese Medicine and acupuncture).

The BMAS decided in 2017 to extended their membership scheme to healthcare professionals who are voluntary regulated, provided that their regulatory body is overseen by the PSA and that acupuncture falls within the scope of practice. This enabled TCM practitioners, physiotherapists, other healthcare professionals and midwives to join the BMAS.

There are now over 1,900 members who use acupuncture in primary or secondary care settings.

The BMAS, staff and members frequently publish their research in the AIM Journal (‘Acupuncture in Medicine’). Since around the year 2000 and in particular with Dr. Mike Cummings taking a leadership position in the BMAS, there has been a great effort to provide a working definition of the term ‘Western Medical Acupuncture

Western Medical Acupuncture is based on the theory and empirical treatment protocols customary taught under the TCM Acupuncture curriculum minus any references pertaining to Chinese Medicine Theory that features terms like Yin/Yang, 5 Phases and Zang Fu theory. It has also incorporated the knowledge domanin of Dry Needling and Electro Acupuncture.

Dr Mike Cummings frequently publishes updates on the latest scientific evidence for using acupuncture. He is also the co-author of one of the standard textbooks in Western Medical Acupuncture:

Filshie J, White A, Cummings M. Medical Acupuncture – A Western Scientific Approach. 2nd edition. London: Elsevier; 2016.

A summary of the conditions covered by the latest research report can be found below:

  • Chronic low back pain
  • Chronic headache
  • Knee osteoarthritis (OA Knee)
  • Hip osteoarthritis (OA Hip)
  • Shoulder pain
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Overactive bladder
  • Chronic constipation
  • Stress urinary incontinence
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Hot flushes

Indications from BAcC

The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) is the leading self-regulatory body for the practice of traditional acupuncture in the UK. For becoming a member, practitioners must practice in the UK and have proof of an equivalent of 3 years of full-time education in acupuncture / Chinese Medicine.

The BAcC provides a recent overview of scientific evidence of those conditions that can be treated with acupuncture:

Chronic pain in general
Chronic pelvic pain
Chronic prostatitis
Osteoarthritis (Knee and hips))
Neck pain
Shoulder pain
Low back pain
Plantar heel pain (plantar fasciitis)
Lateral elbow pain (tennis elbow)
Temporomandibular pain

Headache and migraine
Tension-type headaches (as a preventive treatment)
Migraine (all types)

Allergic respiratory conditions
Allergic rhinitis (hay fever)
Allergic asthma

Digestive system
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
For diarrhoea-predominant IBS
For constipation-predominant version of IBS

Urinary incontinence

Assisted conception (IVF and ICSI)
Acupuncture just before and after the embryo transfer

Natural fertility: female
Help with menstrual and ovulatory problems in women who are having trouble getting pregnant
Focus on polycystic ovarian syndrome
PCOS-related infertility,

Male infertility
Improvement of sperm characteristics.

Mental health
Depression with physical pain
Specific groups of people with depression, for example post-natal, with cancer and those convalescing after a stroke

Generalised or chronic anxiety; much more for
Situational anxiety, for example pre-operative, exam-related or associated with stressful work.

Situational anxiety trials have often used auriculotherapy for its convenience and effectiveness,

Military & Emergency Services personnel

Insomnia (in general)
Insomnia with anxiety/depressive symptoms and fatigue.

The BAcC lists the following conditions and diseases that can be treated with acupuncture:

Allergic rhinitis
Arrhythmias and Heart Failure

Back pain
Bell’s palsy

Cancer care
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Chronic pain
Colds and flu
Coronary heart disease


Eczema and Psoriasis

Facial pain
Female fertility
Female fertility & IVF
Frozen shoulder

Gastrointestinal tract disorders

HIV infection

Infertility ART
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

Kidney stones

Male infertility
Menopausal symptoms
Multiple sclerosis

Nausea and vomiting
Neck pain
Neuropathic pain


Palliative care
Parkinson’s disease
Post-operative pain
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Premenstrual syndrome

Research digest
Rheumatoid arthritis

Sports Injuries
Substance misuse

Tennis elbow
Thyroid disease
Type-2 Diabetes

Urinary incontinence


Indications from AGTCM

The AGTCM is Germany’s largest self-organised institution representing professional Chinese Medicine practitioners both with a Heilpraktiker-work license, medical doctors and midwives.

It is also the organizer of Germany’s biggest annual conference on Chinese Medicine in Rothenburg/OT.

The following conditions are highlighted on the AGTCM website:

Hay fever & allergies Treatment protocols may include acupuncture and herbal prescriptions. Acupuncture treatmenst focus on:

  • relieving symptoms
  • improving the immune system reponse
  • addressing secondary weaknesses to ensure that the immune system is not compromised

Stress-related symptoms and stress-induced illnesses
Acupuncture works both on the physical and mental level, focusing on the patient’s very own list of reported symptoms, mood changes as well as motivational challenges.

Neurological conditions
One of the domains of TCM is neurology. In China, the accompanying treatment of strokes with methods of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is routine. There are emprically proven and widely applied needle protocoals for neurological conditions such as strokes, paralysis, etc.

Musculosceletal pain / joint pain
From the age of 45, almost every second person suffers from painful joints. The knee joints are most commonly affected. The diagnostic approach in Chinese Medicine pays particular attention to the nature of the perceived pain (dull, stabbing, “electric”, pain in motion, pain in rest etc.) to derive tailored acupuncture treatment protocols.

The AGTCM has also published a summary paper documenting clinical research on acupuncture applications (including research up to 2008).