Claudia Machado Cooke, MD, FACP, MPH  |  Health Through Understanding


Medical Acupuncture

Acupuncture was introduced in the 18th century when French and Jesuit missionaries returned to France from Indochina, bringing with them ancient texts to translate and study. The first schools of medical acupuncture were established by physicians in France where acupuncture has enjoyed continuous study and practice within the French medical community for over 150 years. That tradition was brought to the United States by Joseph Helms, MD, a Johns Hopkins and UCLA-schooled physician, who took the full 4 year training within the French acupuncture school.

The vast majority of physicians practicing acupuncture in this country began their study of acupuncture with Joseph Helms through his UCLA–affiliated and now Stamford-affiliated Medical Acupuncture for Physicians program.  The medical acupuncture program lays a broad foundation for its practitioners spanning the spectrum of acupuncture paradigms, ranging from French energetics, to 5 elements, to Traditional Chinese Medicine. In addition, it includes more neuro-anatomically-based interpretations such as Craig PENS (percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) and myofascial trigger point technique. Added to the exisiting medical background in anatomy, biochemistry, physiology and pathophysiology, physician acupuncturists continue to make an important contribution on both research and clinical fronts, deepening our contemporary understanding of acupuncture’s effects.

The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, represents the vast majority of physician acupuncturists in the US today. It convenes an annual symposium, publishes a peer-reviewed and indexed journal, and lobbies for increased recognition of medical acupuncture within the hierarchy of traditional allopathic medicine. Our current President, Dr. Richard Niemtzow, has brought acupuncture to the armed forces medical arena and is known for the development of “battlefield acupuncture”, as well as new approaches to treatment of dry mouth and dry eyes in chemotherapy patients.

Dr. Cooke initiated her study of acupuncture through the Medical Acupuncture for Physicians program in 1995. She has participated in numerous continuing education seminars towards deepening her acupuncture knowledge and skills since that time. Approximately 35% of her clinical visits involve some form of acupuncture. As new scientific evidence emerges to support the age-old notion that we are much larger than the bodies we inhabit, the role for acupuncture in the evolving modern paradigm gains ground. She honors the traditional teaching and also shares the opinion with others who believe in the importance of bridging ancient and modern and in refining our understanding of the biophysical, neurophysiologic, and electromagnetic dimensions of acupuncture’s therapeutic effect. It is her fond wish to see medical acupuncture recognized as a legitimate medical subspecialty in the coming years.