More than 3 million Americans use acupuncture each year to treat a wide range of ailments. An estimated 30,000 acupuncturists, licensed therapists (L.Ac) and medical doctors who are credentialed to perform acupuncture, are now providing treatment in the US.
Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine. It’s based on the premise that a subtle life energy—or “qi”—circulates through the 14 major energy channels of the body, known as meridians. The channels are like “roadways” that transport qi to every part of the body, including its internal organs and tissues.
When a person’s qi becomes blocked or imbalanced—through poor nutrition, stress, muscle overuse, infectious disease, an organ’s malfunction, etc.—he or she will experience pain or ill health. In an attempt to unblock or balance the qi, and restore the body to its natural state of health, an acupuncturist will stimulate certain points (“acupoints”), often by inserting very fine, sterile, stainless-steel needles into them.
According to a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health, acupuncture can effectively be used to treat:
- chronic headaches
- back, neck, and shoulder pain.
Practitioners (and patients) have also seen results with a wide range of conditions, including:
- respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses
- side effects of chemotherapy
- mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
In some cases, acupuncture can be used to help patients reduce their need for—or eliminate—certain prescription drugs.
If administered by a trained practitioner, acupuncture is safe and painless, with no longterm side effects. In most cases, it can be used on children and the elderly.
Some insurance companies will pay for acupuncture, at least partially, if the treatment is performed by a medical doctor or licensed practitioner. Beginning in January 2014, six states—California, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Alaska, and Maryland—will include acupuncture as part of their Essential Health Benefits (EHB) package. EHBs are services insurance companies will be mandated to cover under the new health care reform laws.
To find a licensed practitioner in your area, ask your physician for a referral, or
contact the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine or Acufinder.com.
Acupuncture in the News
Acupuncture and Pain Relief
Study: Acupuncture for Acute Low Back Pain More Effective Than Drugs (Acupuncture Today) Korean doctors found that acupuncture was more effective than drugs in relieving back pain.
Acupuncture Relieves Pain in Largest Study of Treatment (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)
Acupuncture and Symptoms of Lung Cancer
New Research – Acupuncture Helps Lung Cancer Patients (Health CMi) This groundbreaking study found that acupuncture helped alleviate pain, nausea and anxiety in lung cancer patients and improved their overall well-being.
Acupuncture and Anxiety, Depression and PMS
Acupuncture Relieves Stress: New Understanding Of Why The Ancient Practice Eases Anxiety (HuffingtonPost)
Acupuncture and Insomnia
Flying Acupuncture Helps Sleep & Beats Drug – New Research (Health CMi) Acupuncture was more successful than a prescription drug in improving sleep problems.
Acupuncture and Diabetes Control
Acupuncture Points Useful in Diabetes Control? (MedPage Today) Needleless acupuncture helped relieve nausea in diabetic patients, which assisted them with glucose control.
Acupuncture and Pregnancy, Miscarriage and Infertility
Acupuncture Found to Up IVF and Treat Infertility (Health CMi)
Acupuncture and Kids
Acupuncture for Children (Dr. Weill) An anesthesiologist at Children’s Hospital in Boston found that acupuncture helped relieve childrens’ pain and alleviate their headaches, stomachaches and back pain.
Kids and needles is sometimes a good match: Acupuncture can help with pain. (The Washington Post)
Published: June 28, 2013
Last updated: December 30, 2013