The 13 different styles of acupuncture

There are around 13 different types of acupuncture being performed in the world today, 10 traditional and 3 western. All types of acupuncture treatment aim to improve health and wellbeing using a treatment plan.

Tui na, cupping, gua sha and moxibustion are not types of acupuncture but are separate treatment modalities.

Acupuncture developed on the Asian continent, with many countries within Asia developing their own style of acupuncture. For example, there is Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Japanese styles.

Recently acupuncture has become popular in western countries where it is classified as a complementary and alternative medicine. New styles have been invented that aren’t a part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Traditional Chinese medicine originated in China thousands of years ago.

All styles of acupuncture involve the inserting of needles on different part of the body.

Types of acupuncture


The different types of traditional acupuncture all originate from East Asian countries and believe in regulating the flow of energy to aid good health. Traditional acupuncture involves the regulation of blood flow and the flow of qi within channels called meridians.

Practitioners of traditional acupuncture follow similar theories of acupuncture, but expressed in slightly different ways. They use fine needles, finer than those used by western style acupuncturists.

  1. Shamanic acupuncture is a spiritual guided form of treatment that uses spirit healers to guide the acupuncturist in their selection of points to stimulate.
  2. Ancient Chinese type (TCM) acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of acupuncture practiced in the world today with an unbroken tradition dating back thousands of years. As China is so big, it had the greatest influence of the development of acupuncture.
  3. Five Element acupuncture was created by the Englishman JR Worsley and is a western type of acupuncture. Five Element acupuncture doesn’t exist in East Asia and isn’t recognised in China or Australia, where acupuncture is regulated. A lot of members of the British Acupuncture Council practice this style.
  4. Dr Tan type acupuncture is a form of Chinese acupuncture with its roots firmly in acupuncture theory. Additional theories by Dr Tan are then layered on top. Aspects of Master Tung acupuncture are also used.
  5. Master Tung type acupuncture is a form of Chinese style acupuncture that’s based on a family lineage tradition dating back hundreds of years. It uses different acupuncture points to the TCM type.
  6. Korean acupuncture is as old as Chinese style acupuncture. Hand acupuncture is unique to Korean acupuncture and is similar in respects to auricular acupuncture.
  7. Japanese acupuncture is as old as Chinese style acupuncture and is heavily based on acupuncture practiced in China.
  8. Vietnamese acupuncture is as old as Chinese style acupuncture and again is heavily based on acupuncture practiced in China.
  9. Abdominal acupuncture was invented by Dr Bo a few decades ago and is based on classical acupuncture theory and is popular for chronic pain.
  10. Marmapuncture is a type of acupuncture practised in Ayurveda medicine from India.


More recently, physiotherapists, chiropractors, nurses and doctors have started performing ‘acupuncture’ after doing a short course. This is because there is no regulation of acupuncture at present.

  1. Dry needling or trigger point acupuncture is a western form based upon a limited understanding of how traditional acupuncture works. It’s popular for pain management. A needle is inserted into a muscle to release a tight area thereby reducing pain and muscle restriction.
  2. Western medical acupuncture was invented by western medicine doctors in the believe that acupuncture only works on the nervous system.
  3. Auricular acupuncture was created by Dr Nogier in the 1950s and later incorporated into Chinese type acupuncture.
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About Attilio

Doctor of Chinese medicine, acupuncture expert and author of My Fertility Guide and My Pregnancy Guide.

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