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Summary of Practice Act Additions 2017

As Dr. David Miller noted in his dry needling summary (please see that document for information relative to dry needling), our practice act sunsets every 10 years. Great news! The new law is now in place through January 2, 2028. It is has been a monumental team effort to both review our current practice and plan ahead for the future. We strove to make sure that we are now able to practice to the full extent of our educational training. While practice may evolve over time, our hope was to address all potential concerns and challenges that may arise in the years to come. Language incorporated is sufficiently flexible to allow for expansion of practice within a certain range without the need for changes to the Act.

I would like to thank those members of the practice act revision committee for their tireless hours dedicated to this important work. If you know them, please send them an additional personal thank you because without their input our act would not be what it is today: Curt Fiedler, Steve Morrill, David Miller, Mary Rogel (AAAA), Lixin Sha (AAAA), Claudette Baker, Brendan Mattson (PCOM), Elaine Gates-Miliner (PCOM), Kris LaPointe (MCOM), Joe Stiefel (NUHS), Amanda Kreiss, Amy Rose Wolf, and Lamya Kamel (ILAAOM). If I missed anyone, I deeply apologize.

What is new in the acupuncture scope of practice signed into law as of August 25th, 2017?

I. It is now clear that it is not necessary that needles be inserted with each and every treatment. (E.g. It is now fine to do just tui na, cupping, moxibustion, etc. without any needle therapy.)

The previous act implied that an acupuncture needle needed to be inserted with each treatment. For example, this would prevent a practitioner from performing Pediatric Tui Na on a patient unless they also used a needle. While this practice requirement does not make sense in every treatment, it was how the previous act was written. With the new act, this language is clarified and resolves the ambiguity.

II. The definition of acupuncture is significantly expanded, and includes treatment modalities not listed previously as in scope. Note the openness of the language!

Acupuncture also includes evaluation or treatment in accordance with traditional and modern practices of East Asian medical theory, including, but not limited to…

A. Far infrared
B. Cold, electricity, electro or magnetic stimulation
C. Cold Laser
D. Vibration
E. Cupping
F. Gua Sha
G. Moxibustion
H. Herbal Medicinal (see bullet III)
I. Natural or Dietary Supplements
J. Manual Methods
K. Diet
L. Exercise

Please note again, it is critical that practitioners only treat in accordance with their educational background. If a complaint is lodged, that will be the benchmark by which the license is sanctioned or not.

Along those lines, note the following change of language which previously was interpreted to limit practice to humans only, and now does not:

Original language: “Acupuncture” means the evaluation or treatment of persons affected through a method of stimulation of …

New language: “Acupuncture” means evaluation or treatment that is effected by stimulating certain body points…

III. Herbal Medicine is now in scope

Previously, practitioners in Illinois were able to recommend herbs under the
Dietitian Nutritionist Practice Act. (225 ILCS 30/20) (

Sec. 20. Exemptions. This Act does not prohibit or restrict:
(f) A person, including a licensed acupuncturist, from:
(1) providing oral nutrition information as an operator or employee of a health food store or business that sells health products, including dietary supplements, food, or food materials; or
(2) disseminating written nutrition information in connection with the marketing and distribution of those products, or discussing the use of those products, both individually and as components of nutritional programs, including explanations of their federally regulated label claims, any known drug-nutrient interactions, their role in various diets, or suggestions as how to best use and combine them.

This is the same act that allows stores to sell supplements and herbs.
This act is still in effect, so nothing changes for practitioners of any type in relation to herbal sales under this Dietary Act. However, for Licensed Acupuncturists with approved training, they will be able to claim herbs under scope, advertise their expertise, give East Asian medical advice on which herbs are appropriate for patients, and receive continuing education for herbal study. They will no longer be retailers, but practitioners with the practice of herbal medicine in scope.

A significant benefit of this is that if, for whatever reason, the Dietary Nutritionist Practice Act were to change, then our ability to use herbal medicine could be lost. Further, we can now advocate for herbs as part of our professional practice, and as licensed practitioners with expertise. This gives us clout to advocate for our craft. This also clarifies any ambiguity in coverage for malpractice.

As noted, this inclusion in scope will only be for LAc’s with proper training as determined by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR). Over the next couple of years, the Board of Acupuncture within IDFPR will be working to create benchmarks for educational standards to identify which practitioners may practice under scope. Most likely, this will be individuals who are NCCAOM certified for herbal medicine, or those with a substantially equivalent certification. (E.g. California Acupuncture Board.) Those without such certification will still be able to sell under the Dietary Act, but not under the scope of the LAc license. Only those with herbs under LAc scope will be able to claim herbal medicine CEUs towards license renewal.

IV. Guest Practitioners in the state of an Emergency

In the event of an emergency in the State of Illinois, licensed practitioners from other states will now be able to come in and help provide acupuncture treatments for rescue workers, residents, etc. They will be allowed to practice for up to two consecutive weeks and for a total of 30 days in one calendar year. This was done to make it possible for those coordinating with Acupuncturists Without Borders or similar groups to get help from out of state practitioners. Previously, this was illegal.

V. NCCAOM certified for initial licensees January 1, 2020

For applications submitted on or after January 1, 2020, demonstration of status as a Diplomate of Acupuncture or Diplomate of Oriental Medicine with the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine or a substantially equivalent credential as approved by the Department must be shown to receive initial licensure. It is not required to uphold the NCCAOM board certification to renew licensure, but is highly encouraged.

VI. Clarification on credential use, esp. regarding the word “doctor”; credentials must be listed directly after practitioner’s name.

“The use of any words, abbreviations, figures or letters (such as “Acupuncturist”, “Licensed Acupuncturist”, “Certified Acupuncturist”, “Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine”, “Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine”, “Doctor of Acupuncture”, “Oriental Medicine Practitioner”, “Licensed Oriental Medicine Practitioner”, “Oriental Medicine Doctor”, “Licensed Oriental Medicine Doctor”, “C.A.”, “Act.”, “Lic. Act.”, or “Lic. Ac.”, “D.Ac.”, “DACM”, “DAOM”, or “O.M.D.”) or any designation used by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine with the intention of indicating practice as a licensed acupuncturist without a valid license as an acupuncturist issued under this Act.

When the name of the licensed acupuncturist is used professionally in oral, written, or printed announcements, professional cards, or publications for the information of the public, the degree title or degree abbreviation shall be added immediately following title and name. When the announcement, professional card, or publication is in writing or in print, the explanatory addition shall be in writing, type, or print not less than 1/2 the size of that used in the name and title. No person other than the holder of a valid existing license under this Act shall use the title and designation of “acupuncturist”, either directly or indirectly, in connection with his or her profession or business.”

In summary, this means that a practitioner must clearly state their credentials to avoid confusion by the public and patients. It was of concern to the Illinois State Medical Society that writing “Doctor” or “Dr.” in front of a practitioner’s name would create less clarity about a practitioner’s credentials rather than more. For this reason, acupuncture practitioners are not allowed to place Dr. in front of their name unless they hold a Medical Degree (M.D. or D.O), doctorate in dentistry (D.D.S. or D.M.D.), or Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.). Even practitioners who hold a medical degree from another country, unless they are board certified in the United States, must not have their name preceded by “Dr.” (E.g. A practitioner trained in China should write, “Yu Xiao, M.D. (China)”, not just “Dr. Yu” or “Dr. Yu, M.D.”.)

If you have any questions regarding any of these updates, please do not hesitate to ask. We cannot encourage you enough to take the time to read your whole Act and the Rules governing the Act, as that gives you all the details on practice. We will let you know when new Rules are in place.

Thank you for your support of our profession, and please spread the word to other practitioners regarding these updates. Continued growth in our profession comes only with the active engagement of our practitioners.

In gratitude,

Lindy Camardella, L.Ac., MSTOM

AAAA – Asian American Acupuncture Association
PCOM – Pacific College of Oriental Medicine
MCOM – Midwest College of Oriental Medicine
NUHS – National University of Health Science
NCCAOM – National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine