Is acupuncture safe?

Because acupuncture needles puncture the skin, acupuncture treatment can sometimes be considered a somewhat invasive procedure. However, acupuncture is incredibly safe when administered by a licensed acupuncturist, and the risks and injuries very rare. At Natural Qi, high quality stainless steel acupuncture needles are used that are pre-sterilized and disposable, which is required by law in New York. Needles are never resterilized or reused, even on the same patient.

The use of acupuncture needles has included millions of needle placements with a remarkably low incidence of risk to patients and acupuncturists. Based on clinical studies which investigated safety, the FDA began classifying acupuncture needles as safe and effective medical devices in 1996.

“There are currently 30,000 acupuncturists and 8,000 acupuncture students in the U.S. Each sees an average of 50 patients per week. This equates to roughly 1.5 million treatments per week and 78 million acupuncture treatments per year. This does not include the multitude of acupuncturists in Europe, Australia or the Far East. The claim of 50 disparate infections worldwide over a 40-year period comes to approximately one infection per year globally.” *

In the State of New York, it is a requirement for acupuncture licensure that an acupuncturist pass the Clean Needle Technique (CNT) Exam. Before examination, an acupuncturist receives training in blood-borne pathogens, the importance of having a work environment that is controlled and clean, and practice in using the tube-insertion technique, which assures specific and sterile contact with certain acupuncture points. Passing the exam demonstrates professionalism, skill and competence.

In New York State, Licensed Acupuncturists must have graduated from an accredited professional acupuncture program, such as the one Melani Bolyai completed, sponsored by Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, New York. An approved program consists of a minimum of 4050 hours of classroom instruction, supervised clinical experience, and assignments over the course of about three years. In addition, a licensed acupuncturist who is also certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) indicates that an acupuncturist is nationally recognized as upholding the standards of the profession and ensures public safety. As well, licensed acupuncturists must hold current CPR and First Aid certification from the Red Cross or American Heart Association.

Licensed acupuncturists must be very familiar with human anatomy. A small subset of fortunate and privileged acupuncturists in the United States, including Melani Bolyai, studied anatomy with a cadaver. This gives an acupuncturist an advantage in that the acupuncturist has a deeper understanding of the integration of the body’s systems.

It is important to be aware that the title Licensed Acupuncturist is significantly different from that of Medical Acupuncturist. For a discussion of the difference between Licensed Acupuncturists and Medical Acupuncture, click here.

*The claim comes from an article in the British Medical Journal by Woo et al. This quote from “Clean Needles for Acupuncture Safety” by Michael Jabbour, MS, LAc, William Morris, DAOM, PhD, LAc and Steven Schram, PhD, DC, L.Ac, at

How does acupuncture work?

Do acupuncture needles hurt?

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What is the difference between Licensed Acupuncturists and Medical Acupuncture?

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