I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand. (based on a Chinese proverb)

Overview of Acupuncture

AcupuntureAcupuncture is a healing modality that in many ways must be experienced to be believed. Although it has been utilized in Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 2500 years, it is still faced with skepticism in the US. Regardless, this healing practice is very popular in China, as well as, Japan and Korea. The word “acupuncture” means “to puncture with a needle.” And, although there are forms of acupuncture that do not use needles, in general acupuncture utilizes ultra-thin, metal needles to gently pierce and stimulate points throughout the body. Those “acupuncture points” are aligned with the twelve meridians, or energy channels that run up and down the body. When these points are stimulated, energy blockages are released therefore enabling the body’s qi (energy) to flow freely through the meridians. In Chinese Medicine all illness is perceived as an imbalance in energy flow, so acupuncture is a means of rebalancing the body and returning it to health.

For details on what acupuncture is really like, see “Your First Acupuncture Treatment” or the blog, “The Highs and Lows of Acupuncture.”

Find a Licensed Acupuncturist

Although there are very few side effects to acupuncture (i.e. dizziness, bleeding from the needle points), it is still very important that you work with a licensed and thoroughly trained Acupuncturist. The following sites will help you locate a professional in your area.

Benefits of Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been shown to be effective (via controlled studies) for the following diseases and conditions:

  • Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
  • Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
  • Biliary colic
  • Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
  • Dysentery, acute bacillary
  • Dysmenorrhoea, primary
  • Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
  • Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
  • Headache
  • Hypertension, essential
  • Hypotension, primary
  • Induction of labor (childbirth)
  • Knee pain
  • Leukopenia
  • Low back pain
  • Malposition of fetus, correction of
  • Morning sickness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Neck pain
  • Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
  • Periarthritis of shoulder
  • Postoperative pain
  • Renal colic
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sciatica
  • Sprain
  • Stroke
  • Tennis elbow

Compiled from “Acupuncture: review and analysis of controlled clinical trials” WHO, 1999.

Acupuncture Resources

Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) – the commission that provides accreditation for acupuncture education in the US. Find an accredited acupuncture school through their search tool. – a site covering Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture. Their  section offers a search function for finding acupuncturists, schools, and classes. *The site sells books and herbs, and requires practitioners to pay to be listed in their directory, so there is some bias.

Acupuncture: Bottom-line Monographa review from Natural Medicine Journal which includes an interesting chart ranking the effectiveness of acupuncture on specific health concerns.

Acupuncture – a monthly publication with a free newsletter covering acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine topics. The site includes heavy advertising, but the information is comprehensive and a variety of resources are provided. Their “Links” page includes acupuncture organizations by state. There is an Acupuncturist Locator but it appears that those listings are paid for by the practitioner. – Acupuncture – a simple overview of the principles of acupuncture. – a site from Al Stone, L.Ac., DAOM offering research and tools for Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture.

Hartford Hospital – Acupuncture – – an overview on acupuncture including an interactive glossary of terms. – Acupuncture – – a variety of articles and overview information on acupuncture. *This site sells products so some information could be biased.

Institute for Traditional Medicine and Preventive Health Care, Inc. (ITM) – – a nonprofit providing information and research on Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, along with Chinese herbal formulas.

The National Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine – this group’s National Organizations page includes numerous US agencies offering information on acupuncture.

National Institutes of Health – Acupuncture Consensus Statement – – details from the 1997 report assessing the effectiveness of acupuncture.

New England School of Acupuncture  – an accredited school (from the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM)), that offers advanced degrees in acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine.

World Health Organization Publications


Acupuncture: review and analysis of controlled clinical trials– by Dr Xiaorui Zhang, Acting Coordinator Traditional Medicine (TRM),Department of Essential Drugs and Medicines Policy (EDM), World Health Organization. WHO, 1999.

Lilly Marie Blecher, ND, DOM, Lecture at The Graduate Institute, July 22 & 23, 2011. Traditional / Classical Chinese Medicine.

[Last Updated: 4/30/15]

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