Acupuncture Continuing Education

California Acupuncture Board Moves On Drugs

The California Acupuncture Board, a division of the California State Department of Consumer Affairs, is considering changes to its examination and book reference list. Notably, Tina and John Chen’s books CHINESE MEDICAL HERBOLOGY AND PHARMACOLOGY and CHINESE HERBAL FORMULAS were cited as having received many support letters from the acupuncture community. This topic coincides with the Board’s discussion of pharmaceutical drugs and their interactions. The Chen books detail drug-herb interactions and include coverage of contraindications, chemical composition, pharmacological effects, and toxicology. Robert Brewer, Chair of the California Acupuncture Board, agreed to continue discussions on booklists, recommended books, and the booklist review process including a discussion of the NCCAOM’s (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) booklist and review process.

The California Acupuncture Board Executive Officer, Janelle Wedge, introduced new herbs and herbal formulas to be added to the Acupuncture Board’s list as recommended by Subject Matter Experts (SME). According to the California Acupuncture Board minutes, John Chen “supported the review of the current Herb/Formula List so as to reflect contemporary Common Practices as well as setting up a more formalized Herb/Formula submittal process. He indicated that in the modern medical system it is crucial for Acupuncturists and Doctors to understand interactions between drugs and herbs.” Acupuncture Board member Adam Burke noted that any additional herbs or herbal formulas must be added to the California Acupuncture Board exam. Brewer added that a modernized and revamped drug/herb list will ensure that acupuncturists may, according to Board minutes, “prescribe herbs with confidence that it won’t interfere with patients’ pharmaceutical prescriptions.”

These developments suggest that the California Acupuncture Board is moving toward increased requirements for acupuncturists concerning prescription drug medications. This topic has not surfaced as readily as expected partially because the list of FDA allowable herbs is highly restricted such that most available herbs do not have harmful reactions with pharmaceuticals. Warfarin, brand named Coumadin as produced by pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb, has been an issue in the herbal medicine community. Notably, herbal toxicity and reactions have not been of primary issue but rather that herbal medicines may compete with Warfarin for absorption. Essentially, the questions is to what extent and which herbs may decreased or increase the efficacy of Warfarin. The Chen books cover this topic extensively and inclusion of its material in California State acupuncturist academic requirements and State Board exams would address the pharmaceutical interaction issue. It appears that the California Acupuncture Board is moving in this direction as of its last meeting.

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