Alabama does not currently license acupuncturists. It is one of the few remaining holdouts among the 50 states, 43 of which grant acupuncturists a license to practice, with varying definitions of what they can and cannot do.   That may change this year if an acupuncture practice act passes in the Alabama legislature.  I grew up going to south Alabama to see relatives and, frankly, the cultures of acupuncture and Alabama don't seem compatible.  But that was a long time ago. 

Some of the more recent attempts to license acupuncturists have gone all out, defining acupuncture as a form of health care that is based on a theory (using the term loosely) of 

energetic physiology that describes and explains the interrelationship of bodily organs or functions with an associated acupuncture point or combination of points that are stimulated in order to restore the normal function of the bodily organ or function.

Not that the use of twirled needles stuck into patients to unblock "qi" makes any more sense than "energetic physiology," but maybe the acupuncturists are backing off on the more exotic definitions.  This is Alabama, after all. Better to stick with the tried and true here. That is not to say that the acupuncturist couldn't get away with an awful lot under this bill if it becomes law. Acupuncture is defined as being derived from "traditional and modern Oriental medicine concepts and modern research." Whatever Oriental medical concepts are, traditional or modern -- they don't say.  I suppose those parameters are left up to the Alabama Board of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, which would consist of three acupuncturists and one public member. And modern research?  That would pretty much knock out everything they do because "modern research" into acupuncture doesn't allow us to "derive" anything other than the conclusion that acupuncture does nothing.  Unless you count the placebo effect, which is, unique among researchers, counted as effective in alternative medicine. 

In addition to sticking needles in people, the bill allows moxibustion, electroacupunture, electrodermal assessment, Qi Gong, Oriental methods of bodywork, and dietary, movement, nutritional, herbal and movement therapies. 

The bill falls for the usual false assurances that somehow education and training in magic makes said magic safe and effective.  There is a lot of talk about holding "valid certifications from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine,"  and

minimum standards of practice in accordance with those developed and generally accepted by the profession in order to safely and effectively diagnose and treat health conditions within the framework of acupuncture and Oriental medicine.  

An acupuncturist cannot "make a medical diagnosis."  He can, however, "provide pattern differentiation according to traditional Chinese medicine." Once more, whatever that is.  However, 

if a patient's condition is not improving or the patient requires emergency medical treatment, the practitioner shall consult promptly with a physician.

Since acupuncturists are not trained in "western" medicine, and are prevented from making a medical diagnosis, how can they possibly decide what the patient's condition is in the first place, much less whether the patient's condition is not improving.  Do they mean the patient is not improving "within the framework of acupuncture and Oriental medicine?"  Apparently so, which is, of course, irrelevant to the patient's actual health.  And perhaps they should tighten up that requirement that the acupuncturist must "consult promptly with a physician" if the patient requires emergency medical treatment. A better call might be to send the patient to the emergency room.  

Alabama Senate Bill 384 is yet another unfortunate example of what I call "Legislative Alchemy," the transformation of pseudoscientific practitioners into state-licensed health care professionals.  You can find these laws in all states and for all "CAM" practices, whether it be chiropractic (in all 50 states), naturopathy (17 states), homeopathy (3 states, but homeopathic products are legal in all states, and naturopaths, chiropractors, MDs and DOs use them as well) or acupuncture (ditto).  The metastisis of magic in medicine continues, which is ironic, since the elimination of magic was supposedly the goal of modern medicine.