What is Acupuncture
Acupuncture (from Lat. acus, "needle", and pungere, "prick") or in Standard Mandarin, zhēn biān (a related word zhēn jiǔ refers to acupuncture together with moxibustion) is a technique of inserting and manipulating filiform needles into points on the body with the aim of restoring health and well-being, and particularly treating pain. Acupuncture is thought to have originated in China and is most commonly associated with Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Different types of acupuncture (Classical Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, and Korean acupuncture) are practiced and taught throughout the world.
Scientists are studying the mechanisms and efficacy of acupuncture. The effectiveness of acupuncture remains controversial in the scientific community, and a review by Edzard Ernst and colleagues in 2007 found that the body of evidence was growing, research is active, and that the "emerging clinical evidence seems to imply that acupuncture is effective for some but not all conditions". Researchers using the protocols of evidence-based medicine have found good evidence that acupuncture is moderately effective in preventing nausea. There is conflicting evidence that it can treat chronic low back pain, and moderate evidence of efficacy for neck pain and headache. For most other conditions reviewers have found either a lack of efficacy (e.g., help in quitting smoking) or have concluded that there is insufficient evidence to determine if acupuncture is effective (e.g., treating shoulder pain). While little is known about the mechanisms by which acupuncture may act, a review of neuroimaging research suggests that specific acupuncture points have distinct effects on cerebral activity in specific areas that are not otherwise predictable anatomically.
The WHO, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American Medical Association (AMA) and various government reports have also studied and commented on the efficacy of acupuncture. There is also general agreement that acupuncture is safe when administered by well-trained practitioners, and that further research is warranted.
Traditional Chinese medicine's acupuncture theory predates the use of the modern scientific method, and has received various criticisms based on modern scientific thinking. There is no generally-accepted anatomical or histological basis for the existence of acupuncture points or meridians. Acupuncturists tend to perceive TCM concepts in functional rather than structural terms, i.e. as being useful in guiding evaluation and care of patients. Scientists have reported a cultural bias in scientific studies of acupunture.