Auricular acupuncture; use of the five needle protocol. (HB1278)

Introduced By

Del. Eric Zehr (R-Campbell) with support from co-patron Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Auricular acupuncture; use of the five needle protocol. Allows any person to engage in the five needle auricular acupuncture protocol (5NP), a standardized protocol wherein up to five needles are inserted into the external human ear to provide relief from the effects of behavioral health conditions, provided that such person (i) has appropriate training in the 5NP, including training established by the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association or equivalent certifying body; (ii) does not use any letters, words, or insignia indicating or implying that he is an acupuncturist; and (iii) makes no statement implying that his practice of the 5NP is licensed, certified, or otherwise overseen by the Commonwealth. Treatment utilizing the 5NP pursuant to this bill is strictly limited to the insertion of disposable, sterile acupuncture needles into the ear and only in compliance with the 5NP. Read the Bill »


This fiscal impact statement states that there is no fiscal impact associated with this legislation. The Department of Health Professions would not be affected by the provisions of the bill. No specific agency or political subdivisions would be impacted, and no technical amendment is necessary.

Summary generated automatically by OpenAI.


Bill Has Passed


01/10/2024Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/10/24 24100800D
01/10/2024Referred to Committee on Health and Human Services
01/23/2024Assigned sub: Behavioral Health
02/01/2024House subcommittee amendments and substitutes offered
02/01/2024Subcommittee recommends reporting with substitute (8-Y 0-N)
02/06/2024Impact statement from DPB (HB1278)
02/06/2024Reported from Health and Human Services with substitute (20-Y 2-N) (see vote tally)
02/06/2024Committee substitute printed 24106733D-H1
02/07/2024Impact statement from DPB (HB1278H1)
02/08/2024Read first time
02/09/2024Read second time
02/09/2024Committee substitute agreed to 24106733D-H1
02/09/2024Engrossed by House - committee substitute HB1278H1
02/12/2024Read third time and passed House (97-Y 3-N)
02/12/2024VOTE: Passage (97-Y 3-N) (see vote tally)
02/13/2024Constitutional reading dispensed
02/13/2024Referred to Committee on Education and Health
02/21/2024Assigned Education and Health Sub: Health Professions
02/29/2024Reported from Education and Health (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
03/01/2024Constitutional reading dispensed (40-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
03/04/2024Read third time
03/04/2024Passed Senate (39-Y 0-N)
03/08/2024Bill text as passed House and Senate (HB1278ER)
03/08/2024Impact statement from DPB (HB1278ER)
03/08/2024Signed by Speaker
03/09/2024Signed by President
03/11/2024Enrolled Bill communicated to Governor on March 11, 2024
03/11/2024G Governor's Action Deadline 11:59 p.m., April 8, 2024
04/05/2024G Approved by Governor-Chapter 548 (effective 7/1/24)


William Moncure writes:

The five needle protocol is absolute pseudoscience. This practice has been thoroughly debunked and ultimately only serves to prey on desperate people who are struggling with withdrawal and mental health concerns. This is often promoted for dealing with addiction and withdrawal, despite the mechanisms of addiction and withdrawal being in the brain, not the ear. Concerningly, the NADA website also says that this process of sticking needles in your ear can be used to treat "emotional trauma". This bill seems to not have any requirement that an individual administering this technique have any kind of license or education in Counseling, Psychology, Social Work, or any other relevant field that would allow them to actually be qualified to work with people who are suffering from addictions and trauma. Allowing this treatment is at best taking people's money for no benefit, and at worse may lead to cases where people get needles stuck in their ear instead of seeking more effective help. It is also not hard to imagine a situation in which a person has their trauma triggered, or cravings for substances activated, and the unlicensed individual working with them has no idea how to actually handle that situation.

This approach is snake oil that people want to be able to administer despite their unwillingness to go through education that would actually give them the tools needed to help individuals with trauma history and addictions. Do not legitimize this practice.

Sarge588 writes:

It seems clear to me in reading William's comment that he has not experienced these types of treatments before. It is not pseudoscience, it has not been debunked, and for those of us who experience the world outside of academics and have actually had the treatments, they work. The danger in judging things without all of the information is that you can truly lead others to create judgements that can limit another person's ability to use all tools available to them. No one has stated, nor does this bill state, that this cures all addiction without other elements of treatment, and those that provide the treatment don't make those claims either. My stance is that we should allow all useful tools that may help, not restrict those that are outside of our comfort zone or scope of awareness. Furthermore, and most importantly, those that speak from a place of fear or judgment likely are speaking from some experience or bias that they bring with them, rather than from a place of open and honest debate.

I would also say that assumptions about the level of training that these practitioners have sounds good until you know that they are behavioral healthcare workers, nurses, nurse practitioners, licensed acupuncturists, and doctors.

One last point, William may also benefit from doing some real research on snake oil. I believe he intended to speak about those that sold water that claimed to be the oil of the chinese water snakes, but contained none of the substance. Snake Oil, in it's original form, does have health benefits. A contradiction at best, and a hurried, ill informed reference at worst.

Waldo Jaquith writes:

"Snake oil actually has health benefits" is not making the case that you hoped to make here.

Michael Uppendahl writes:

There’s actually a lot of evidence that ear acupuncture works, Mr. Moncure’s poorly-informed comments notwithstanding. I personally have benefited so much from ear acupuncture, that I made the effort to train and become certified in doing it. My treatments are FREE with donations accepted, primarily to cover supplies costs. I make NO specific claims that it will help any specific person with any specific problem, only observing that many find it helpful, including myself.

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