Ever since the 1970s, when this ancient Chinese tradition debuted in the U.S., Western researchers have sought to understand the phenomenon of acupuncture.
But the American public hasn’t waited for the scientific answers. Because conventional medicine either hasn’t worked nor had the answers, growing numbers of patients are seeking out acupuncturists. According to the 2002 Natiogrowingth Interview Survey, an estimated 8.2 million American adults have used acupuncture. This is an impressive number considering only an estimated 2.1 million American adults had used acupuncture in the year before.
Acupuncture is commonly used as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative to treat an ever-growing list of disorders: addiction, stroke, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, asthma, infertility, pregnancy problems, dental pain, and side effects from cancer treatment.
“The applications for acupuncture are endless…people use it for sports injuries, for their emotional well-being, for everything,” Peter Wayne, Ph.D., director of research at the New England School of Acupuncture, tells WebMD.
Recent advances in technology have helped unlock the biological mysteries of this 2,000-year-old medical practice. Researchers are much closer to understanding how an acupuncture needle can subtly adjust the body’s tissues, nerves, and hormones. The NIH and World Health Organization have both given formal approval of certain uses of acupuncture.
It helps to have an exploring, open mindset when considering acupuncture. “But even people who are not very open-minded and try it, find they feel good during the treatments,” David S. Kiefer, MD, of the University of Arizona in Tucson, told WebMD in a previous interview. “Sometimes they are surprised.”