Thursday, July 13, 2006

Verification Optional

I was ordering from an acupuncture supply company today and I was bothered by something during check-out. Unlike many herbal suppliers, such as Crane Herbs or Kan, several distributors of needle, moxabustion, and Electro Therapy products, including Acu-Market and Lhasa OMS, do not require license verification before allowing you to buy. I merely had to check boxes stating that I legally met the criteria to purchase such products, but there was no process to ensure I was who I claimed to be. By making professional products easily available to the public, it can encourage quack practitioners and lead to dangerous experimentation, particularly with those companies that sell herbal formulas. Of course they have the usual "hold-harmless-no-medical-claims-intended-the-herbs-are-just-food-supplements" disclaimers, but the open access still seems odd.

I have to remind myself of all the other "herbal" products on the market that any laymen can self-prescribe while standing in the natural section of their local grocery store, then pick-up a box of lacnets at the pharmacy. I must also admit, however, the side pet peeve is that there is no "practitioner pricing" on these sites and I have to pay the same for Tiger Balm as everyone else. But truly, my concern is more about the right tools in the right hands. I understand that mail-order companies are in the business of making money, but there should be some sort of license verification process before they will ship things like acupuncture needles, plum blossom hammers, and direct moxibustion - it keeps the profession honest.

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