The term "acupuncture" describes a family of procedures involving the stimulation of anatomical points on the body using a variety of techniques. The acupuncture technique that has been most often studied scientifically involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation. Acupuncture became better known in the United States in 1971, when New York Times reporter James Reston wrote about how doctors in China used needles to ease his pain after surgery. American practices of acupuncture incorporate medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea, and other countries.
ACUPUNCTURE USE IN THE UNITED STATES
The report from a Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture held at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1997 stated that acupuncture is being "widely" practiced—by thousands of physicians, dentists, acupuncturists, and other practitioners-for relief or prevention of pain and for various other health conditions. According to the 2002 National Health Interview Survey — the largest and most comprehensive survey of CAMA group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine -, complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine, and alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine — an estimated 8.2 million U.S. adults had ever used acupuncture, and an estimated 2.1 million U.S. adults had used acupuncture in the previous year.
STATUS OF ACUPUNCTURE RESEARCH
There have been many studies on acupuncture's potential health benefits for a wide range of conditions. Summarizing earlier research, the 1997 NIH Consensus Statement on Acupuncture found that, overall, results were hard to interpret because of problems with the size and design of the studies. In the years since the Consensus Statement was issued, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has funded extensive research to advance scientific understanding of acupuncture. Some recent NCCAM-supported studies have looked at:
Whether acupuncture works for specific health conditions such as chronic low-back pain, headache, and osteoarthritis of the knee.
How acupuncture might work, such as what happens in the brain during acupuncture treatment.
Ways to better identify and understand the potential neurological properties of meridians and acupuncture points.
Methods and instruments for improving the quality of acupuncture research.
THOMAS ACUPUNCTURE & WELLNESS
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