South Dakota is one of four states with no acupuncture regulations

Published: Mar. 15, 2017 at 6:47 PM MDT
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South Dakota is one of only four states that does not have state regulations on a popular form of medicine.

Colleen Ragan, acupuncturist says, "It's inserting needles in key points of our body to open up energy flow so that everything is nourished well so that muscles are relaxed, so that tendons are lengthened, so the body is supporting, the emotions are clear, your emotional heart is at peace, you are thinking clearly. It's about balancing the entirety of the person."

Acupuncture is an ancient medicine with roots in China that has found its way into western society.

Dr. Shelia Schielke, acupuncture patient says, "Why I get it on a regular basis is because it's a stress reduction for me and also because of my high stress of all I know that my organs in the energy to my different organ systems isn't always what it needs to."

But in South Dakota ... there are no state regulations on this medicine.

Drea Miller, Oriental Medicine practitioner says, "More and more people are using acupuncture and Oriental medicine it's of utmost importance that we protect the public by letting them know that we are credentialed we have degrees or nationally certified we've passed board exams and that we know the ins-and-outs of the safety to properly do the procedures without any Hazard to the patient."

Acupuncturists go through several years of schooling ... clinicals ... and board certifications -- but if something goes wrong in South Dakota ....

Ragan says, "You could tell my national certification commission but they have no right to actually act on anything."

Miller says, "This is an invasive procedure. We're actually sticking needles in people. So as a public safety issue it should be regulated."

And several acupuncturists have been working on getting a bill passed.

Ragan says, "We are in the early stages of figuring out the exactly how we see this happening and then of course the legislature has the really, you know this, say of how this actually would be done."

But with no current regulations in South Dakota ... it can causes problems for patients.

Miller says, "We actually had an issue of this year in South Dakota where another acupuncturist who was under disciplinary action in another state fled to South Dakota to start a practice here because we have no regulations."

Ragan says, "If somebody were to put a needle in the wrong place at the wrong depth on somebody, that could actually hurt them."

But legislation is in the works to help practitioners maintain their ancient art.

Ragan says, "Truthfully it also protects the Integrity of the medicine."