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An acupuncturist is a health professional who applies theories of traditional Chinese medicine in the form of acupuncture. Acupuncture is a procedure in which thin needles are inserted into specific parts of the body to relieve pain and treat illness.

Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe acupuncture unblocks and balances the flow of energy (chi or qi), which flows through the body along pathways called meridians. Western medicine practitioners theorize that acupuncture reduces pain through biological mechanisms, perhaps involving stimulation of the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, and changes in neurotransmitters, hormones, or immune function.

Licensing and certification for acupuncturists varies from province to province. For more information about acupuncturists, visit the Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Association of Canada website at, or a provincial organization such as the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia (CTCMA) at When choosing an acupuncturist, it is important to check credentials, especially in provinces with less rigorous requirements.

A physician acupuncturist is a doctor of medicine or podiatry or an osteopathic doctor who has fulfilled the physician requirements for licensure to practice acupuncture that have been set by the province's medical licensing authority. These doctors study acupuncture and incorporate it into their medical practice.