ASA Annual Conference 2024 Washington DC


Review by Dr. Yvonne Wylie Walston, DOM, NMSAAM President


Once again, the American Society of Acupuncturists (ASA) Annual Conference was an excellent gathering of amazing minds and talent.

As ASA Chair Dr. Olivia Hsu Friedman, DACM, LicAc, Dipl OM, noted, the ASA works to advance the professional practice of acupuncture as a whole system of medicine through advocacy, education, and research.

NMSAAM is one of the ASA state members.


Friday, April 5, ASA Council Meeting

The ASA Council, which includes the delegates from each state, ASA committee chairs, and the ASA board, met from 8-5:00. This group decides on public policies and focus of the ASA, working with their state associations as much as members want or are willing to become involved.

Delegates gave a two-minute report about what is happening in their states. A few highlights:

  • We celebrated that Arizona has recently upgraded their practice act, and they claim that it now has the strongest scope in the USA. It does include acupuncturist independent treatment of animals.
  • Maryland was unanimously re-instated as an ASA state member, and they are currently working on a name for their society.
  • One delegate reported that they became involved in reporting a group of non-acupuncture-trained practitioners who were using hypodermic needles on back shu points!

Luncheon was partially sponsored by Golden Flower Chinese Herbs off site at Paisanos. GFCH owner Dr. John Scott, DOM, missed great food and presentations because he was setting up the GFCH section of the exhibitor booths, but I thanked him later for the salmon!

Michael Torratino, esq, attended lunch and as an attorney, he gave some astute observations about our profession:

  • We need to get professional recognition, because acupuncturists are often considered a modality, not a profession, in various locations.
  • A good first step was that the US Department of Labor finally gave us a category in 2015: Acupuncturist.
  • We created the market, but others are coming on board to infringe, so we need to get on an equal playing field.
  • Professional recognition will be achieved by the profession becoming Medicare providers, even though not every acupuncturist has to opt in as a Medicare provider.
  • Acupuncture growth has been 1% within the field. There are 6300 acupuncture students currently.
  • Growth in other Medicare providers who are allowed to practice acupuncture, such as nurses, are growing at a much higher rate.


Saturday and Sunday April 6-7 Conference:


The conference was well attended with members from 33 states, Four New Mexico DOMs attended, John Scott, Kirsti Reed, Robert Bibeau, and Yvonne Walston. All are NMSAAM members. This is the second year that pre-conference as well as post-conference CEUs could be earned, including some pre-conference credits with Peter Deadman. This allowed attendees to not have to be present at each of the classes to earn CEUs. There was so much to see and do, including networking.


Between presentations, there was plenty of time to visit the exhibitors who  generously sponsored the ASA conference and classes.  They each had samples and information. When attending the conference, excellent discounts are available during and after the conference for a limited time. I am still working through some of the materials on my dining room table below.



A fun NM bonus was the reunion of 3 NMSAAM presidents. We are three amigos! Eric Raymond Buckley, DOM, LAc, now resides in his home state of Pennsylvania. He was effectively the first NMSAAM president in 2009, after Jeff Meyer, DOM, the first NMSAAM President, created NMSAAM from the wreckage of an old association, but then had to leave it to Eric. John Scott, DOM is our immediate past president and Yvonne Walston, DOM is our current president.

Eric Raymond Buckley, Yvonne Wylie Walston and John Scott

Live presentations included:

Acupuncture Points in Acupuncture Research: Past, Present, and Future: Dr. Helene Langevin, MD. presented her research and she said that acupuncture points are a 2000-year-old riddle that we have not yet solved. She wrote an article for the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine,  called What Is the Point with Peter Wade PhD that has a first discrete point definition. Dr. Langevin has been exploring the second definition, which is a linked system, a network. She says that the acupuncture points interact with an interstitium with fluid circulation throughout the body. She is pleased that modern knowledge is compatible with ancient knowledge.

Topological Atlas and Repository for Acupuncture Research (TARA). Dr. Vitaly Napadow, PhD, LicAc, is a neuroscientist At Harvard Medical School. He is part of a worldwide team creating and building tools for research rather than performing research. The website is not up yet for this early work. He is more involved in the MRI Atlas part. Cadavers around the world are being frozen and micro slices produced. The whole body will be scanned in Auckland and co-registered. It will be possible to place our own points and see the tissue depths with this tool. He says that we are the stakeholders.

Peripheral Neuropathy with Acupuncture: Dr. David Duhui Wang, PhD, LAc gave a practical presentation with excellent applications. He said that they are generally two types of peripheral neuropathy; demyelinating and axonal degeneration. He focused on axonal degeneration.

Anti-inflammatory Acupuncture: Guan-Yuan Jin MD(China), LicAc, discussed the neural basis and clinical applications of systemic anti-inflammatory response from acupuncture. Inflammation is the latest popular term for current population issues, and it is accurate for many reasons. Many acupuncturists, including myself, have patients come in and say, I’m inflamed.

Brain-based Mechanisms Supporting Patient/Acupuncturist Therapeutic Alliance: A Step toward Reducing Clinician Burnout. Dr. Napadow spoke and presented. He says that there is a lot of burn-out since Covid. He gave practical tips on creating therapeutic alliance for optimal treatments. He is working on a book called Theory of Mind about cognitive empathy. He is collaborating with Ted Kaptchuk.

Advanced Dry Needling, New ASA Initiative: Mona Yuan, LAc, PT, says that dry needling is not retention needling unless it is done using E-Stim. She says that the projected growth of the PT profession is 6.3%. As of next month, all PTs will be allowed to do dry needling. She suggests that it is critical for acupuncturists to speak Western medical language for best communications to be accepted and taken seriously. She says that acupuncturists are the needling experts.

Listening and Receptivity in Clinic: Michael Max, LAc gave a good review and tune-up about putting oneself aside and listening to our patients. One dramatic example involved a young lady who was a cutter, someone who pathologically cut her skin. All of her practitioners focused on getting her to stop. Michael realized that she was cutting her Shao Yang channels where she had imbalance. He taught her to do tapping and acupressure, and she quit cutting herself. You may want to hear his ongoing podcast, Qiological, for additional wisdom.

That was just Saturday!

Pediatric and Adolescent Long Covid: Dr. David Miller, MD, LAc, works mostly with double digit children, and he was able to bring great practical and statistical information from the integrative pediatric medicine department that he started in Ohio. He tells his patients that pacing is rest before getting tired. He said that there is lingering heat at some level and often uses spleen and kidney tonics. He observed that sugars, for example sucrose and fructose often throw these patients way off in a way that is more profound than before Covid.

Before he was allowed to leave the stage, David Miller was presented with a very well-deserved recognition, the Chair Emeritus ASA award.

Wildlife Protection: Chinese Medicine Should Act Proactively: Yemeng Chen, PhD, LAc, and Lixing Lao, PhD, LAc are leaders in turning the tide back of illegal trafficking of endangered species for medicinal materials, and they are tireless in educating the public and practitioners. Chinese medicine has been blamed and stigmatized for the trafficking, yet in real practice animal species are not strongly recommended since Sun Simiao. The second conference of Wildlife Protection in Chinese Medicine was held after the ASA meeting on April 14, 2024 in NY. Case studies and experiences in Chinese medical practice that were successful without the use of endangered species were presented.

Integrating Herbal Medicine into Oncology Care Delivery: Yen Nien (Jason) Hao, PharmD, RPh, LAc, Dipl OM, from the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, helped to launch an Herbal Oncology Program (HOP) in 2019. He said that it can’t be stated that herbal medicine can cure here, because herbal medicine is under supplements. It can be said that herbal medicine helps with specific symptoms. There is a free data base that was launched in 2002, with 80,000 subscribers. They need more collaborations. There are 2 very good CEU courses in MSK.

The New ICD-11 Traditional Medicine Codes and Supporting Documentation: Marilyn Allen from the American Acupuncture Council gave an introduction to the new World Health Organization ICD-11 Traditional Medicine Codes. It is now free online, and it uses acupuncturist traditional medicine language. It is still not known when it will be implemented in the USA, but the codes are being used around the world. She suggests studying the ICD-11 codes and use them in SOAP note comments even though they can’t be billed with ICD-11 yet. This will help practitioners to be ready when ICD-11 is implemented here.

Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine (AHM) Coalition: The four national acupuncture organizations that advance professional standards of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine through education, advocacy and research have formally joined in a coalition. Mina Larson (NCCAOM), Mark McKenzie (ACAHM), Sharon Jennings Rojas (CCAHM), and Olivia Hsu Friedman (ASA) discussed this new endeavor.

  • There will be an NCCAOM Townhall on May 15 to discuss why this coalition began, what the mission/vison/goals are, and what the focus will be for the immediate future and five years from now. Watch your emails for the AHM Coalition Townhall!
  • Mina Larson pointed out that in the NW, nurses are being trained in TCM with 300 hrs. She says that the profession of acupuncture has not supported the profession.  She strongly suggests taking the NCCAOM job cost analysis survey. 
  • The Department of Defense approached last year, and they want compact licensure.
  • Fact: The largest employer of acupuncturists is the Veterans Administration.

Professional Advocacy
: Jennifer Broadwell, AP, Dipl OM, ASA Advocacy Committee Chair, and Amy Mager, DACM, Lic.Ac., Dipl OM, ASA Vice Chair Public Policy led this lively and open discussion.

  • Jennifer said that HR 3133 Acupuncture for Our Seniors Act will have a new bill number in Jan 2025 if it has not passed by the end of 2024. Note that New Mexico has done it’s part, thanks to lobbying by NMSAAM members so that our three US House Representatives support the bill, and Rep Melanie Stansbury co-sponsors it.
  • ASA Advocacy recommends using Bill Track 50. It is possible to go to the map in the ASA website and hover over the map to see what bills are being discussed.
  • Amy Mager always wears the same outfit when testifying at legislation for recognition. She reminds that there is a difference between certificates and certification. There were no requirements for CE in her state of MA until 2018. She is working on a NADA bill.
  • It is also suggested that we step up collaborating more with other professionals.

Monday, April 8:

There were meetings planned on the Capital Hill with Republican US House Representatives by their constituents, because HR 3133 needs Republican sponsors. There is a need to have relatively balanced bipartisan support for a bill to pass, and while HR 3133 has plenty of Democratic co-sponsors, starting with CA Rep. Judy Chu, there is only one Republican US House Representative co-sponsor with PA Rep. Brian K. Fitzpatrick.

Personally, since I am not a constituent of a Republican US Rep in NM, the Advocacy Committee did not need my help, and I went home on Monday the 8th. In NM, most DOMs live in their own worlds, naively feeling quite secure, since NM has had an acupuncture license since 1981 and has one of the best scopes of practice in the nation. Also, the repeal of the Sunset Act means that the NM Scope is not automatically opened every four years to be renewed. That makes NM very attractive . . Is our scope really so secure when during the last two legislative sessions, there have been attempts to open up the scope to dilute it by people who do not want to meet NM requirements?

There is no place like home, and it was good to see our Albuquerque mountains and the Rio Grande River!

Please note: This article expresses the opinions and research of the author, and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of NMSAAM, the NMSAAM BOD, or the ASA.