Is acupuncture regulated in Canada? The short answer is Yes.
But, acupuncture, unfortunately, is not regulated nationwide in Canada. Only in five provinces.
Why is Acupuncture Regulated in Canada?
Acupuncture and some other healthcare professions are regulated in most of Canada to:
- better protect and serve the public interest;
- be a more open and accountable system of self-governance;
- provide a more modern framework for the work of health professionals;
- provide consumers with freedom of choice; and
- provide mechanisms to improve quality of care.
Acupuncture is regulated in Canada via the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA). The associated health profession Act set out the governing framework for the regulated health professions in Ontario.
Acupuncture is Regulated in Canada and Five Provinces
Each province has their own college by which the members must abide. They are:
- British Columbia
- Newfoundland & Labrador
The Demand for Acupuncture is Growing
According to Benzinga, financial news and analysis service, the global acupuncture market size is likely to touch USD 55323.8 million at a 14.50% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2018-2023, as per the latest Market Research Future (MRFR) report.
The demand for acupuncture is growing in Canada and it is important to protect those who are receiving acupuncture. The best way to protect the public is to regulate acupuncture in Canada as a health profession.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is part of the ancient practice of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It is the practice of penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles. Then they are activated through gentle and specific movements by hand or with electrical stimulation.
There are over 2,000 acupuncture points in the human body, connected by meridians. These meridians create an energy flow (Qi, pronounced “chee”) through the body that is responsible for overall health. Disruptions of this flow can lead to disease or discomfort. By applying acupuncture to certain points, it improves the flow of Qi, thereby improving health.
Acupuncture stimulates the balance and flow of Qi energy that in Traditional Chinese Medicine is considered essential to health. When the balance or flow of Qi is deficient or obstructed it may be diseased or susceptible to illness. Acupuncture treats both the symptoms and the root causes of the patient’s illness.
Both TCM acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into certain parts of the body.
As mentioned, TCM goes back 2000 – 3000 years and has formed a unique system to diagnose and cure illness. The TCM approach is fundamentally different from that of Western medicine. Whereby in TCM, the understanding of the human body is based on the holistic understanding of the universe as described in Daoism, and the treatment of illness is based primarily on the diagnosis and differentiation of syndromes.
Clinical diagnosis and treatment in TCM are based on the Yin-Yang and Five-element theories. These theories apply the phenomena and laws of nature to the study of the physiological activities and pathological changes of the human body and its interrelationships.
The acupuncture needles are rounded at the tip so that they slide smoothly through tissue and are unlikely to cause bleeding. They are left in place for 15 to 30 minutes during which time the practitioner may manipulate the needles in order to strengthen or reduce the flow of Qi.
How does TCM acupuncture work?
Acupuncture is an ancient and safe practice. Many choose acupuncture after trying other forms of treatment and medication, in some cases, surgery.
Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins – the body’s natural pain-relieving neurohormones – through the insertion of needles into specific anatomical points (acupuncture points) to encourage natural healing. Therapeutic effects include:
- Pain relief
- Increased energy
- Improved mood
- Improved body function
What is Dry Needling?
Dry needling is a specialized Western needling technique used by certified physiotherapists, chiropractors and medical doctors. This technique is also called Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS), Biomedical Dry Needling, or Functional Dry Needling (FDN). However, all follow a similar treatment approach.
Dry needling is used to treat musculoskeletal systems based on pain patterns, muscular dysfunction and other orthopedic signs and symptoms.
How does Dry Needling work?
Dry needling releases tight and sore muscles associated with common conditions on multiple levels within the body. The technique itself involves the insertion of fine acupuncture needles into taut bands of muscle that contain a knot or “trigger point”.
During treatment, patients will generally feel their muscles twitch or grab briefly as the needle strikes the target tissue. This feeling is not painful, though is somewhat uncomfortable – but is over within 2-3 seconds. Your therapist can provide appropriate exercises following the release of the target tissue to maintain proper function and mobility.
Regulation of Acupuncture in Canada
TCM and acupuncture are regulated in five provinces in Canada. Standards for training are set by the regulatory bodies for each province.
TCM and acupuncture are regulated in:
- British Columbia
- Newfoundland & Labrador
In provinces without regulation, it is the consumers’ responsibility to inform themselves of the practitioner’s level of training.
Once an individual has successfully completed all examinations required in their province, they may apply to their provincial regulatory college for registration under the protected title within their province. This registration process generally includes a reference check and a criminal record check to ensure only ethical individuals may practice. If the individual can satisfy all the requirements for registration in their province, the regulatory college will grant them a license to practice under their protected title in their province.
Labour Mobility within Canada
Some provinces have reciprocity agreements such as Labour Mobility. This allows practitioners from other regulated provinces to transfer their license over to another province to practice but each practitioner can only be licensed in one province at a time.
Regulated Health Professions that Practice Acupuncture
- Medical doctors and dentists may use acupuncture in all Canadian provinces and territories.
- Physiotherapists may use acupuncture in all provinces except Quebec.
- Chiropractors may use acupuncture in all provinces but Quebec and British Columbia.
- Naturopathic Doctors may use acupuncture within their scope of practice, in provinces where they are regulated.
- Massage therapists may use acupuncture in provinces where they are regulated.
Canadian Alliance of Regulatory Bodies of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists
The Canadian Alliance of Regulatory Bodies of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists (CARB-TCMPA) is the national forum and voice of provincial regulatory authorities. The founding members comprise the regulatory bodies of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists (TCM/A) of British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
CARB-TCMPA’s members regulate acupuncture practitioners in Canada and use the titles authorized by provincial legislation to ensure that patients receive safe, quality, and ethical health care services. Through collaborative activities, CARB-TCMPA promotes the quality practice and labour mobility. Applying only for the titles and designations which they currently hold in another province).
CARB-TCMPA is a resource for members, governments, and the public. Working collaboratively on identified issues and acting on opportunities that could have an impact on the regulation, quality, education, and training of TCM professionals to ensure public protection.
CARB-TCMPA works collaboratively to promote quality practice and act on opportunities that could have an impact on the regulation, quality, education, and training of TCM professionals to ensure public protection. They are also working to develop national standards for practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture in Canada.
Where is Acupuncture Regulated in Canada?
TCM is regulated in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Once an individual has successfully completed all examinations required in their province, they may apply to their provincial regulatory college for registration under the protected title within their province.
Protected Titles in Canada
Protected titles differ within each province in Canada. Be aware of which title(s) can be used.
- Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Dr. TCM) is a registrant authorized to practise acupuncture. They can prescribe, compound or dispense Chinese herbal medicine. This registrant has met training/examination requirements at a higher level than registrants with the other titles.
- Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner (R. TCM.P) is a registrant authorized to practise acupuncture. They can prescribe, compound or dispense Chinese herbal medicine.
- Registered Acupuncturist (R. Ac) is a registrant authorized to practise acupuncture.
- Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Herbalist (R. TCM.H) is a registrant authorized to prescribe. They can compound or dispense Chinese herbal medicine
Acupuncture Regulation in British Columbia
College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia (CTCMA-BC)
900 – 200 Granville St, Vancouver, BC V6C 1S4
Regulated Titles in British Columbia
- Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Dr. TCM)
- Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner (R. TCM.P.).
- Registered Acupuncturist (R. Ac.)
- Traditional Chinese Medicine Herbalist (R. TCM.H.)
Acupuncture Regulation in Alberta
College and Association of Acupuncturists of Alberta
201, 9612 – 51 Ave NW, Edmonton, AB T6E 5A6
Regulated Titles in Alberta
- Doctor of acupuncture (Dr. Ac.)
- Acupuncturist (R. Ac. or Ac.)
Acupuncture Regulation in Ontario
College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario (CTCMPAO)
55 Commerce Valley Drive West, Suite 705 Thornhill, ON L3T 7V9
Regulated Titles in Ontario
- Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner (R. TCMP) and/or
- Registered Acupuncturist (R. Ac.)
Acupuncture Regulation in Quebec
Ordre des Acupuncteurs du Québec
505, boul. René-Lévesque Ouest bureau 601 Montréal (Québec) H2Z 1Y7
Tél: (514) 523-2882
1-800-474-5914 (extérieur de Montréal)
Fax: (514) 523-9669
Adresse courriel: firstname.lastname@example.org
Regulated Titles in Quebec
Acupuncture Regulation in Newfoundland & Labrador
The College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Newfoundland and Labrador (CTCMPANL)
47 Leslie Street
St. John’s, NL A1E 2V7
Regulated Titles in Newfoundland & Labrador
- Registered Acupuncturist (R. Ac.)
All TCM professionals working in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador must write and pass the Pan-Canadian Examinations. The Pan-Canadian Examinations assess occupational competencies of entry-level TCM professionals. They ensure the registrant is able to provide a safe, competent, and ethical practice. Successful completion of the Pan-Canadian Examinations is required for registration as a TCM practitioner, acupuncturist or TCM Herbalist. They must also follow the requirements imposed by the provincial regulator.
A candidate must demonstrate the minimum level of competence expected of an entry-level TCM professional in the designated role to pass a Pan-Canadian Examination. The (CARB-TCMPA) written and clinical case-study examinations are the national organization of provincial and territorial regulatory bodies that govern and monitor the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Practitioners, Acupuncturists and/or Herbalists. Additional examinations such as safety or jurisprudence programs may be required depending on the province.
Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine title (Dr. TCM) is a registrant authorized to practise acupuncture, and prescribe, compound or dispense Chinese herbal medicine.
The Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine is an approximate 10-semester program. Areas of TCM such as psychology, oncology, gerontology, acupuncture detox and research are studied. Classic texts that first recorded the principles of TCM are also explored.
This registrant has met training/examination requirements at a higher level than registrants with the other titles.
The title Dr.TCM is not recognized in all provinces in Canada.