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Does acupuncture work better than a placebo?

“Acupuncture has been around for a very long time and used by practitioners around the world,” said David Shallcross, M.D. “The National Institutes for Health lists 40 or more conditions for which acupuncture seems to offer a better benefit than placebo.”

It’s estimated that U.S. adults made more than 17 million visits to acupuncture practitioners in 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number has more than tripled since 1997. As Americans warm to alternative medicine, many are choosing to try acupuncture for various ailments.

Acupuncture dates back at least 3,000 years as a form of treatment and arises from the Chinese concept of Qi, or vital energy, which flows through the body in 14 main channels. According to traditional Chinese medicine, pain and sickness can be traced to blockages of these channels, which prevent the natural flow of Qi. Acupuncturists such as Zhang use observation and analysis of patient history to direct them to the appropriate points -- there are a total of 361 -- along those channels, where they use needles to dissipate the blockages and allow the flow of Qi to resume.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.