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Acupuncture is an ancient method of treatment that began in China as a part of traditional Chinese medicine. It involves stimulating points on the body called meridians. These points are stimulated by piercing with fine needles or applying electric currents or laser.

Acupuncture is most commonly used for pain-related conditions. It is also used for addictions, several mental disorders, movement disorders such as Parkinson disease and cerebral palsy, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.

Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
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  • Back pain.  Most research shows that acupuncture seems to reduce back pain more than no treatment. However, it is unclear if acupuncture is more effective than sham acupuncture. Receiving more than 5 treatments with deep acupuncture seems to offer the most long-term benefit.
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  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV).  When used with antiemetics, most research shows that electroacupuncture modestly reduces nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. It is unclear if manual acupuncture is effective when used alone or with antiemetics.
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  • Depression.  When used with conventional antidepressants, most research shows that acupuncture modestly reduces symptoms of depression. It is unclear if acupuncture alone is more effective than conventional antidepressants.
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  • Dyspepsia.  Most research shows that acupuncture seems to reduce symptoms of dyspepsia.
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  • Fibromyalgia.  Most research shows that acupuncture seems to reduce pain and stiffness in patients with fibromyalgia.
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  • Insomnia.  When used alone or in combination with sleep hygiene or conventional treatments, most research shows that manual acupuncture seems to improve sleep quality in patients with insomnia. Electroacupuncture may not offer benefit.
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  • Labor pain.  Most research shows that acupuncture seems to reduce labor pain and the need for epidural analgesia.
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  • Migraine headache.  Most research shows that acupuncture seems to prevent migraine headaches. It is unclear if acupuncture is as effective as conventional prophylactic strategies or as a migraine treatment.
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  • Neck pain.  When used alone or in addition to routine treatment, most research shows that acupuncture seems to modestly reduce neck pain.
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  • Osteoarthritis.  Most research shows that acupuncture seems to reduce pain and improve function in patients with osteoarthritis. Acupuncture is conditionally recommended by The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) for any form of osteoarthritis.
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  • Postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV).  Most research shows that acupuncture at the P6 acupoint reduces PONV in adults and children.
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  • Tension headache.  Most research shows that acupuncture alleviates tension headache when compared with no treatment. However, it is unclear if acupuncture is more effective than sham treatment.
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Info

Acupuncture is a treatment method used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Acupuncture treatment involves inserting fine needles into specific parts or points on the body along pathways called "meridians." The purpose is to stimulate points that correspond to specific organs, emotions, or sensory feelings. For example, acupuncture around the ear, feet, and hands targets the pain of labor.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is thought that disease is caused by an imbalanced or blocked flow of energy or "qi." Therefore, acupuncture is thought to stimulate energy flow, unblock energy, and rebalance energy, which results in healing.

Most acupuncture points are located near nerves. Researchers suggest that inserting an acupuncture needle at these points may block pain signals.

Some experts also think that acupuncture might release natural chemicals called endorphins or opioids, which naturally reduce pain.

For depression and other mental conditions, acupuncture is thought to stimulate chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) that allow nerve cells to communicate. Some researchers believe that acupuncture might increase the production and release of serotonin and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters that play a big role in depression.

Acupuncture is LIKELY SAFE when used appropriately. Side effects are uncommon but may include dizziness, nausea and vomiting, pain, fainting, and infection of the needle insertion points. Inappropriate use of acupuncture needles can cause serious trauma to internal organs and can cause serious adverse events including death.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Traditional acupuncture is POSSIBLY SAFE when used appropriately when pregnant or breast-feeding. Researchers who studied the effects of acupuncture on labor pain reported no harm or serious side effects. There isn't enough reliable information to know if electroacupuncture or laser acupuncture is safe when pregnant. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children. Acupuncture is POSSIBLY SAFE in children. There are no reports of serious side effects in research testing acupuncture in children.

There are no known interactions with medications. Before taking this product, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

There are no known interactions with foods.

The appropriate or safe use of acupuncture depends on several factors such as the condition being treated or the person administering the treatment. Be sure to seek and follow relevant directions from your physician or other healthcare professional before using this treatment.

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