IT ONLY TOOK 2,000 YEARS, but Eastern and Western medicine finally agree on something: the effectiveness of acupuncture, the healing art in which hair-thin needles are inserted along pathways called meridians to clear qi, or energy, that gets blocked due to illness and imbalance. Scientists have yet to explain the success of the therapy in Western terms, but they theorize that it stimulates the production of immune-system cells and painkilling endorphins; studies also indicate that acupuncture alters the release pattern of brain chemicals like neurotransmitters and neurohormones, which affects the central nervous system.
Much clinical attention has been paid to acupuncture. The medical website PubMed (www.pubmed.gov) lists more than 10,000 published investigations, and the National Institutes of Health currently sponsor about 50 trials in the recruitment stage that will examine acupuncture in the treatment of hypertension, osteoarthritis, chronic pain, depression, and other conditions. And even though researchers struggle to find a consistently reliable placebo, study results so far have been particularly encouraging in treating the following conditions:
- Headaches and Migraines
- Weight Loss
- Quitting Smoking
- Hot Flashes
- Cancer Treatment Side Effects
- Immunity Booster