With roots that trace back more than 5,000 years in traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is a popular alternative practice. It is not only one of the most common treatments worldwide, but it is also one of the oldest. However, it did not gain recognition until 1971 when James Reston, a New York Times journalist, published an article about his pain was very eased after surgery by Chinese doctors who employed the use of acupuncture.

The Foundation of Acupuncture
This practice is founded on the belief that all living beings have an energy that travels through 12 meridians (or invisible energy lines) in the body by the use of qi (pronounced key). Each of these meridians is associated with a particular organ system. It is the belief of the Chinese that disease will occur qi become imbalanced.

How Does Acupuncture Work?
By using extremely thin, metal needles that are inserted into important points on the lines of the meridian, acupuncture is said to renew life force and restore balance to the body. Anatomical points in our bodies are specifically targeted with the needles. Electric or manual stimulation controls them. Clients of acupuncture have reported feeling relaxed and energized at the completion of a treatment.

Today's Use of Acupuncture
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reclassified the needles used in acupuncture from experimental to medical devices in 1997. The FDA recognizes the usefulness of acupuncture based on the over $ 500 million annually spent by Americans on treatments. Even some insurance companies will cover sessions. According to the FDA, the needles must be non-toxic, sterilized and used only once in order for them to be legally used.

The use of acupuncture is also endorsed by the National Institutes of Health. Many doctors, dentists and health care providers practice it across the country.

Increasing Acceptance
In 2002, the National Health Interview Survey noted the increasing acceptance of acupuncture treatments. They saw the number of adults going for treatments increase substantially. In 2001, 2.1 million chose acupuncture treatment. That number rose to about 8.2 million by 2002.

More and more folks are beginning to grow impatient with the practices of conventional medicine. They are turning to alternatives in growing numbers to find safe, non-toxic relief from pain and other ailments with which they are plagued.

How do Acupuncture Treatments Work
Acupuncture can relieve pain by releasing endorphins into the body. It has effects over our automatic nervous systems and the electrical currents that run through our bodies. It is commonly used to treat many common conditions and ailments and is believed to renew life force to the spirit and the body.

Common ailments that have been successfully covered include: smoking and other addictions, sinusitis, migraines, the common cold, tennis elbow, infertility, lower back pain, menstrual cramps, arthritis, obesity, carpal tunnel syndrome and asthma.

The growing numbers of pharmaceutical drugs (such as Vioxx) being removed from the market because of their dangerous side effects have created apprehension about taking these potent medicines. These fears as well as endorsements about acupuncture's effectiveness by health organizations and the government cause more people to consider it as a viable, effective treatment. Plus, there are significantly fewer side effects associated with acupuncture than noted with pharmaceutical drugs particularly when used to treat pain.

Research has shown that patients with depression, post chemotherapy nausea, and osteoarthritis benefit greatly from treatment.

Who Should You Contact?
It is very important that you locate a highly qualified, certified practitioner when seeking an acupuncturist. Check with your holistic practiceer for a recommendation on where you can find treatment locally. He / she may even offer services right in their office.

Acupuncture is a wonderful way to treat pain and renew life force. Safe and effective, it is a treatment well worth looking into.