Acupuncture: the Oriental practice of inserting thin, sterile needles on the skin to increase circulation, stimulate the immune and nervous systems for therapeutic purposes.
Different variations of acupuncture are practiced and taught throughout the world. Acupuncture has been the subject of active scientific research since the late 20th century but it remains controversial among conventional medical researchers and clinicians.
Due to the invasive nature of acupuncture treatments, it is difficult to create studies that use proper scientific controls. Some scholarly reviews have concluded that the effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment can be explained largely through the placebo effect, while others have suggested some efficacy in the treatment of specific conditions. An acupuncturist published a review of clinical trials of acupuncture for the World Health Organization that concluded it was effective for the treatment of many conditions, but the report was roundly criticized by medical scientists for being inaccurate and misleading.
Alternative medicine texts have declared that specialized acupuncture techniques can be effective for treating neurological conditions and relieving pain. but such claims have been criticized by several scientists for bias and a reliance on studies that used poor methodology.Reports from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), the American Medical Association (AMA) and various government reports have studied and commented on the efficacy (or lack thereof) of acupuncture. There is general agreement that acupuncture is safe when administered by well-trained practitioners using sterile needles, and that further research is needed.