Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly
used medical procedures in the world. Originating in China more than 2,000
years ago, acupuncture became widely known in the United States in 1971
when New York Times reporter James Reston wrote about how doctors
in Beijing, China, used needles to ease his abdominal pain after surgery.
Research shows that acupuncture is beneficial in treating a variety of
In the past two decades, acupuncture has grown in popularity in the
United States. In 1993, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimated
that Americans made 9 to 12 million visits per year to acupuncture practitioners
and spent as much as $500 million on acupuncture treatments.1
In 1995, an estimated 10,000 nationally certified acupuncturists were
practicing in the United States. By the year 2000, that number is expected
to double. Currently, an estimated one-third of certified acupuncturists
in the United States are medical doctors.2
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has funded a variety of research
projects on acupuncture that have been awarded by its National Center
for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), National Institute
on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institute of Dental Research,
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and National
Institute on Drug Abuse.
This information package provides general information about acupuncture,
summaries of NIH research findings on acupuncture, information for the
health consumer, a list of additional information resources, and a glossary
that defines terms underscored in the text. It also lists books, journals,
organizations, and Internet resources to help you learn more about acupuncture
and traditional Chinese medicine.
Traditional Chinese medicine theorizes that the more than 2,000 acupuncture
points on the human body connect with 12 main and 8 secondary pathways,
called meridians. Chinese medicine practitioners believe
these meridians conduct energy, or qi, between the surface
of the body and internal organs.
Qi regulates spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical balance. Qi
is influenced by the opposing forces of yin and yang.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, when yin and yang are balanced,
they work together with the natural flow of qi to help the body achieve
and maintain health. Acupuncture is believed to balance yin and yang,
keep the normal flow of energy unblocked, and restore health to the body
Traditional Chinese medicine practices (including acupuncture, herbs,
diet, massage, and meditative physical exercises) all are intended to
improve the flow of qi.3
Western scientists have found meridians hard to identify because meridians
do not directly correspond to nerve or blood circulation pathways. Some
researchers believe that meridians are located throughout the body's connective
tissue;4 others do not believe that qi
exists at all.5,6
Such differences of opinion have made acupuncture a source of scientific
Preclinical studies have documented acupuncture's
effects, but they have not been able to fully explain how acupuncture works
within the framework of the Western system of medicine.7,8,9,10,11,12
Mechanisms of Action
Several processes have been proposed to explain acupuncture's effects,
primarily those on pain. Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the
central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release chemicals
into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals either change
the experience of pain or release other chemicals, such as hormones, that
influence the body's self-regulating systems. The biochemical changes may
stimulate the body's natural healing abilities and promote physical and
emotional well-being.13 There are three
- Conduction of electromagnetic signals:
Western scientists have found evidence that acupuncture points are strategic
conductors of electromagnetic signals. Stimulating points along these
pathways through acupuncture enables electromagnetic signals to be relayed
at a greater rate than under normal conditions. These signals may start
the flow of pain-killing biochemicals, such as endorphins, and of immune
system cells to specific sites in the body that are injured or vulnerable
- Activation of opioid systems: Research has found that several
types of opioids may be released into the central
nervous system during acupuncture treatment, thereby reducing pain.16
- Changes in brain chemistry, sensation, and involuntary body functions:
Studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing
the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones
in a good way. Acupuncture also has been documented to affect the parts
of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body
functions, such as immune reactions and processes whereby a person's
blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature are regulated.3,17,18
According to an NIH consensus panel of scientists, researchers, and
practitioners who convened in November 1997, clinical studies
have shown that acupuncture is an effective treatment for nausea caused
by surgical anesthesia and cancer chemotherapy as well as for dental pain
experienced after surgery. The panel also found that acupuncture is useful
by itself or combined with conventional therapies to treat addiction, headaches,
menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial
pain, osteoarthritis, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma;
and to assist in stroke rehabilitation.19
Increasingly, acupuncture is complementing conventional therapies. For
example, doctors may combine acupuncture and drugs to control surgery-related
pain in their patients.20 By providing
both acupuncture and certain conventional anesthetic drugs, doctors have
found it possible to achieve a state of complete pain relief for some
patients.16 They also have found that
using acupuncture lowers the need for conventional pain-killing drugs
and thus reduces the risk of side effects for patients who take the drugs.21,22
Outside the United States, the World Health Organization (WHO), the
health branch of the United Nations, lists more than 40 conditions for
which acupuncture may be used.23
The table below lists these conditions.
Source: World Health Organization, United Nations. "Viewpoint on
Acupuncture." 1979 (revised).23
Conditions Appropriate for Acupuncture Therapy
Currently, one of the main reasons Americans seek acupuncture treatment
is to relieve chronic pain, especially from conditions such as arthritis
or lower back disorders.24,25
Some clinical studies show that acupuncture is effective in relieving
both chronic (long-lasting) and acute or sudden pain, but other research
indicates that it provides no relief from chronic pain.27
Additional research is needed to provide definitive answers.
The FDA approved acupuncture needles for use by licensed practitioners
in 1996. The FDA requires manufacturers of acupuncture needles to label
them for single use only.28 Relatively
few complications from the use of acupuncture have been reported to the
FDA when one considers the millions of people treated each year and the
number of acupuncture needles used. Still, complications have resulted from
inadequate sterilization of needles and from improper delivery of treatments.
When not delivered properly, acupuncture can cause serious adverse effects,
including infections and puncturing of organs.1
NCCAM-Sponsored Clinical Research
Originally founded in 1992 as the Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM),
the NCCAM facilitates the research and evaluation of unconventional medical
practices and disseminates this information to the public. The NCCAM, established
in 1998, supports nine Centers, where researchers conduct studies on complementary
and alternative medicine for specific health conditions and diseases. Scientists
at several Centers are investigating acupuncture therapy.
Researchers at the NCCAM Center at the University of Maryland in Baltimore
conducted a randomized controlled clinical trial and
found that patients treated with acupuncture after dental surgery had
less intense pain than patients who received a placebo.20
Other scientists at the Center found that older people with osteoarthritis
experienced significantly more pain relief after using conventional drugs
and acupuncture together than those using conventional therapy alone.29
Researchers at the Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation in Minnesota
are studying the use of acupuncture to treat alcoholism and addiction
to benzodiazepines, nicotine, and cocaine. Scientists at the Kessler Institute
for Rehabilitation in New Jersey studied acupuncture to treat a stroke-related
swallowing disorder and the pain associated with spinal cord injuries.
The OAM, now the NCCAM, also funded several individual researchers in
1993 and 1994 to conduct preliminary studies on acupuncture. In one small
randomized controlled clinical trial, more than half of the 11 women with
a major depressive episode who were treated with acupuncture improved
In another controlled clinical trial, nearly half of the seven children
with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder who
underwent acupuncture treatment showed some improvement in their symptoms.
Researchers concluded that acupuncture was a useful alternative to standard
medication for some children with this condition.31
In a third small controlled study, eight pregnant women were given a
type of acupuncture treatment, called moxibustion,
to reduce the rate of breech births, in which the fetus is positioned
for birth feet-first instead of the normal position of head-first. Researchers
found the treatment to be safe, but they were uncertain whether it was
effective.32 Then, researchers reporting
in the November 11, 1998, issue of the Journal of the American Medical
Association conducted a larger randomized controlled clinical trial
using moxibustion. They found that moxibustion applied to 130 pregnant
women presenting breech significantly increased the number of normal head-first
Acupuncture and You
The use of acupuncture, like many other complementary and alternative
treatments, has produced a good deal of anecdotal evidence. Much of this
evidence comes from people who report their own successful use of the treatment.
If a treatment appears to be safe and patients report recovery from their
illness or condition after using it, others may decide to use the treatment.
However, scientific research may not substantiate the anecdotal reports.
Lifestyle, age, physiology, and other factors combine to make every
person different. A treatment that works for one person may not work for
another who has the very same condition. You, as a health care consumer
(especially if you have a preexisting medical condition); should discuss
acupuncture with your doctor. Do not rely on a diagnosis of disease by
an acupuncturist who does not have substantial conventional medical training.
If you have received a diagnosis from a doctor and have had little or
no success using conventional medicine, you may wish to ask your doctor
whether acupuncture might help.
Finding a Licensed Acupuncture Practitioner
Doctors are a good resource for referrals to acupuncturists. Increasingly,
doctors are familiar with acupuncture and may know of a certified practitioner.
In addition, more medical doctors, including neurologists, anesthesiologists,
and specialists in physical medicine, are becoming trained in acupuncture,
traditional Chinese medicine, and other alternative and complementary therapies.
Friends and family members may be a source of referrals as well. In addition,
national referral organizations provide the names of practitioners, although
these organizations may be advocacy groups for the practitioners to whom
they refer. See Acupuncture Resources for a list
of these organizations.
Check a practitioner's credentials.
A practitioner who is licensed and credentialed may provide better
care than one who is not. About 30 states have established training standards
for certification to practice acupuncture, but not all states require acupuncturists
to obtain a license to practice. Although proper credentials do not ensure
competency, they do indicate that the practitioner has met certain standards
to treat patients with acupuncture.
The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture can give you a referral
list of doctors who practice acupuncture. The National Acupuncture and
Oriental Medicine Alliance lists thousands of acupuncturists on its Web
site and provides the list to callers to their information and referral
line. The Alliance requires documentation of state license or national
board certification from its listed acupuncturists. The American Association
of Oriental Medicine can tell you the state licensing status of acupuncture
practitioners across the United States as well. To contact these and other
organizations, see Acupuncture Resources.
Check treatment cost and insurance coverage.
Reflecting public demand, an estimated 70 to 80 percent of the nation's
insurers covered some acupuncture treatments in 1996. An acupuncturist may
provide information about the number of treatments needed and how much each
will cost. Generally, treatment may take place over a few days or several
weeks. The cost per treatment typically ranges between $30 and $100, but
it may be appreciably more. Physician acupuncturists may charge more than
Check treatment procedures.
To find out about the treatment procedures that will be used and their
likelihood of success. You also should make certain that the practitioner
uses a new set of disposable needles in a sealed package every time. The
FDA requires the use of sterile, nontoxic needles that bear a labeling statement
restricting their use to qualified practitioners. The practitioner also
should swab the puncture site with alcohol or another disinfectant before
inserting the needle.
Some practitioners may use electroacupuncture;
others may use moxibustion. These approaches are part of traditional Chinese
medicine, and Western researchers are beginning to study whether they
enhance acupuncture's effects.
During your first office visit, the practitioner may ask you at length
about your health condition, lifestyle, and behavior. The practitioner
will want to obtain a complete picture of your treatment needs and behaviors
that may contribute to the condition. This holistic
approach is typical of traditional Chinese medicine and many other alternative
and complementary therapies.
Let the acupuncturist, or any doctor for that matter, know about all
treatments or medications you are taking and whether you have a pacemaker,
are pregnant, or have breast or other implants. Acupuncture may be risky
to your health if you fail to tell the practitioner about any of these
The Sensation of Acupuncture
Acupuncture needles are metallic, solid, and hair-thin, unlike the
thicker, hollow hypodermic needles used in Western medicine to administer
treatments or take blood samples. People experience acupuncture differently,
but most feel minimal pain as the needles are inserted. Some people are
energized by treatment, while others feel relaxed.34
Some patients may fear acupuncture because they are afraid of needles. Improper
needle placement, movement of the patient, or a defect in the needle can
cause soreness and pain during treatment.35
This is why it is so important to seek treatment from a qualified acupuncture
As important research advances continue to be made on acupuncture worldwide,
practitioners and doctors increasingly will work together to give you
the best care available.
For More Information
For more information about acupuncture research sponsored by different
parts of NIH, contact the respective Information Office or Clearinghouse.
Call the NIH operator for assistance at 301-496-4000.
For more information about research on acupuncture, contact the NIH
National Library of Medicine (NLM), which has published a bibliography
of more than 2,000 citations to studies conducted on acupuncture. The
bibliography is available on the Internet at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/cbm/acupuncture.html
or by writing the NLM, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20894. The NLM
also has a toll-free telephone number: 1-888-346-3656.
For a database of research on complementary and alternative medicine,
including acupuncture, access the CAM Citation Index on the NCCAM Web
site at http://nccam.nih.gov/nccam/resources/cam-ci/.
Glossary of Terms
- An ancient Chinese health practice that involves puncturing the skin
with hair-thin needles at particular locations, called acupuncture points,
on the patient's body. Acupuncture is believed to help reduce pain or
change a body function. Sometimes the needles are twirled, given a slight
electric charge (see electroacupuncture), or warmed
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
- A syndrome primarily found in children and teenagers that is characterized
by excessive physical movement, impulsiveness, and lack of attention.
- Clinical studies
- (Also clinical trials, clinical outcomes studies, controlled trials,
case series, comparative trials, or practice audit evidence.) Tests
of a treatment's effects in humans. Treatments undergo clinical studies
only after they have shown promise in laboratory studies of animals.
Clinical studies help researchers find out whether a promising treatment
is safe and effective for people. They also tell scientists which treatments
are more effective than others.
- A variation of traditional acupuncture treatment in which acupuncture
or needle points are stimulated electronically.
- Electromagnetic signals
- The minute electrical impulses that transmit information through and
between nerve cells. For example, electromagnetic signals convey information
about pain and other sensations within the body's nervous system.
- A complex chronic condition having multiple symptoms, including muscle
pain, weakness, and stiffness; fatigue; metabolic disorders; allergies;
- Describes therapies based on facts about the "whole person," including
spiritual and mental aspects, not only the specific part of the body
being treated. Holistic practitioners may advise changes in diet, physical
activity, and other lifestyle factors to help treat a patient's condition.
- A traditional Chinese medicine term for the 14 pathways throughout
the body for the flow of qi, or vital energy, accessed through acupuncture
- The use of dried herbs in acupuncture. The herbs are placed on top
of acupuncture needles and burned. This method is believed to be more
effective at treating some health condititions than using acupuncture
- Chemical substances made by tissue in the body's nervous system that
can change the structure or function or direct the activity of an organ
- A term referring to the body's nervous system, which starts, oversees,
and controls all body functions.
- Biochemical substances that stimulate or inhibit nerve impulses in
the brain that relay information about external stimuli and sensations,
such as pain.
- Synthetic or naturally occurring chemicals in the brain that may reduce
pain and induce sleep.
- An inactive substance given to a participant in a research study as
part of a test of the effects of another substance or treatment. Scientists
often compare the effects of active and inactive substances to learn
more about how the active substance affects participants.
- Preclinical studies
- Tests performed after a treatment has been shown in laboratory studies
to have a desirable effect. Preclinical studies provide information
about a treatment's harmful side effects and safety at different doses
- (Pronounced "chee.") The Chinese term for vital energy
or life force.
- Randomized controlled clinical trials
- A type of clinical study that is designed to provide information about
whether a treatment is safe and effective in humans. These trials generally
use two groups of people; one group receives the treatment and the other
does not. The participants being studied do not know which group receives
the actual treatment.
- Traditional Chinese medicine
- An ancient system of medicine and health care that is based on the
concept of balanced qi, or vital energy, that flows throughout the body.
Components of traditional Chinese medicine include herbal and nutritional
therapy, restorative physical exercises, meditation, acupuncture, acupressure,
and remedial massage.
- The Chinese concept of positive energy and forces in the universe
and human body. Acupuncture is believed to remove yang imbalances and
bring the body into balance.
- The Chinese concept of negative energy and forces in the universe
and human body. Acupuncture is believed to remove yin imbalances and
bring the body into balance.
- Lytle, C.D. An Overview of Acupuncture. 1993. Washington,
DC: United States Department of Health and Human Services, Health Sciences
Branch, Division of Life Sciences, Office of Science and Technology,
Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration.
- Culliton, P.D. "Current Utilization of Acupuncture by United
States Patients." National Institutes of Health Consensus Development
Conference on Acupuncture, Program & Abstracts (Bethesda, MD,
November 3-5, 1997). Sponsors: Office of Alternative Medicine and Office
of Medical Applications Research. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes
of Health, 1997.
- Beinfield, H. and Korngold, E.L. Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide
to Chinese Medicine. New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 1991.
- Brown, D. "Three Generations of Alternative Medicine: Behavioral
Medicine, Integrated Medicine, and Energy Medicine." Boston
University School of Medicine Alumni Report. Fall 1996.
- Senior, K. "Acupuncture: Can It Take the Pain Away? " Molecular
Medicine Today. 1996. 2(4):150-3.
- Raso, J. Alternative Health Care: A Comprehensive Guide. Buffalo,
NY: Prometheus Books, 1994.
- Eskinazi, D.P. "National Institutes of Health Technology Assessment
Workshop on Alternative Medicine: Acupuncture." Journal of Alternative
and Complementary Medicine. 1996. 2(1):1-253.
- Tang, N.M., Dong, H.W., Wang, X.M., Tsui, Z.C., and Han, J.S. "Cholecystokinin
Antisense RNA Increases the Analgesic Effect Induced by Electroacupuncture
or Low Dose Morphine: Conversion of Low Responder Rats into High Responders."
Pain. 1997. 71(1):71-80.
- Cheng, X.D., Wu, G.C., He, Q.Z., and Cao, X.D. "Effect of Electroacupuncture
on the Activities of Tyrosine Protein Kinase in Subcellular Fractions
of Activated T Lymphocytes from the Traumatized Rats." Acupuncture
and Electro-Therapeutics Research. 1998. 23(3-4):161-170.
- Chen, L.B. and Li, S.X. "The Effects of Electrical Acupuncture
of Neiguan on the PO2 of the Border Zone Between Ischemic and Non-Ischemic
Myocardium in Dogs." Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
- Lee, H.S. and Kim, J.Y. "Effects of Acupuncture on Blood Pressure
and Plasma Renin Activity in Two-Kidney One Clip Goldblatt Hypertensive
Rats." American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 1994. 22(3-4):215-9.
- Okada, K., Oshima, M., and Kawakita, K. "Examination of the Afferent
Fiber Responsible for the Suppression of Jaw-Opening Reflex in Heat,
Cold and Manual Acupuncture Stimulation in Anesthetized Rats."
Brain Research. 1996. 740(1-2):201-7.
- National Institutes of Health. Frequently Asked Questions About
Acupuncture. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health, 1997.
- Dale, R.A. "Demythologizing Acupuncture. Part 1. The Scientific
Mechanisms and the Clinical Uses." Alternative & Complementary
Therapies Journal. April 1997. 3(2):125-31.
- Takeshige, C. "Mechanism of Acupuncture Analgesia Based on Animal
Experiments." Scientific Bases of Acupuncture. Berlin, Germany:
- Han, J. S. "Acupuncture Activates Endogenous Systems of Analgesia."
National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference on Acupuncture,
Program & Abstracts (Bethesda, MD, November 3-5, 1997). Sponsors:
Office of Alternative Medicine and Office of Medical Applications of
Research. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health, 1997.
- Wu, B., Zhou, R.X., and Zhou, M.S. "Effect of Acupuncture on
Interleukin-2 Level and NK Cell Immunoactivity of Peripheral Blood of
Malignant Tumor Patients." Chung Kuo Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa
Chich. 1994. 14(9):537-9.
- Wu, B. "Effect of Acupuncture on the Regulation of Cell-Mediated
Immunity in Patients With Malignant Tumors." Chen Tzu Yen Chiu.
- National Institutes of Health Consensus Panel. Acupuncture. National
Institutes of Health Consensus Development Statement (Bethesda,
MD, November 3-5, 1997). Sponsors: Office of Alternative Medicine and
Office of Medical Applications of Research. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes
of Health, 1997.
- Lao, L., Bergman, S., Langenberg, P., Wong, R., and Berman, B. "Efficacy
of Chinese Acupuncture on Postoperative Oral Surgery Pain." Oral
Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology. 1995. 79(4):423-8.
- Lewith, G.T. and Vincent, C. "On the Evaluation of the Clinical
Effects of Acupuncture: A Problem Reassessed and a Framework for Future
Research." Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
- Tsibuliak, V.N., Alisov, A.P., and Shatrova, V.P. "Acupuncture
Analgesia and Analgesic Transcutaneous Electroneurostimulation in the
Early Postoperative Period." Anesthesiology and Reanimatology.
- World Health Organization. Viewpoint on Acupuncture. Geneva,
Switzerland: World Health Organization, 1979.
- Bullock, M.L., Pheley, A.M., Kiresuk, T.J., Lenz, S.K., and Culliton,
P.D. "Characteristics and Complaints of Patients Seeking Therapy
at a Hospital-Based Alternative Medicine Clinic." Journal of
Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 1997. 3(1):31-7.
- Diehl, D.L., Kaplan, G., Coulter, I., Glik, D., and Hurwitz, E.L.
"Use of Acupuncture by American Physicians." Journal of
Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 1997. 3(2):119-26.
- Levine, J.D., Gormley, J., and Fields, H.L. "Observations on
the Analgesic Effects of Needle Puncture (Acupuncture)." Pain.
- Ter Reit, G., Kleijnen, J., and Knipschild, P. "Acupuncture and
Chronic Pain: A Criteria-Based Meta-Analysis." Clinical Epidemiology.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Acupuncture Needles No Longer
Investigational." FDA Consumer Magazine. June 1996. 30(5).
- Berman, B., Lao, L., Bergman, S., Langenberg, P., Wong, R., Loangenberg,
P., and Hochberg, M. "Efficacy of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture
in the Treatment of Osteoarthritis: A Pilot Study." Osteoarthritis
and Cartilage. 1995. (3):139-42.
- Allen, John J.B. "An Acupuncture Treatment Study for Unipolar
Depression." Psychological Science. 1998. 9:397-401.
- Sonenklar, N. Acupuncture and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
National Institutes of Health, Office of Alternative Medicine Research
Grant #R21 RR09463. 1993.
- Milligan, R. Breech Version by Acumoxa. National Institutes
of Health, Office of Alternative Medicine Research Grant #R21 RR09527.
- Cardini, F. and Weixin, H. "Moxibustion for Correction of Breech
Presentation: A Randomized Controlled Trial." Journal of the
American Medical Association. 1998. 280:1580-4.
- American Academy of Medical Acupuncture. Doctor, What's This Acupuncture
All About? A Brief Explanation for Patients. Los Angeles, CA: American
Academy of Medical Acupuncture, 1996.
- Lao, L. "Safety Issues in Acupuncture." Journal of Alternative
and Complementary Medicine. 1996. 2(1):27-9.
Acupuncture Information Resources
| The NIH does not endorse any of the resources listed below. You,
as a health care consumer, are encouraged to explore these resources
fully to determine their relevancy, position on treatment, relative
cost, and background of authors or staff. You may wish to discuss
this information with your doctor, who can assist you in critically
evaluating all resources for their relevance to your diagnoses and
The Information resources below are listed by title in the following
National Institutes of Health
Combined Health Information Database (CHID)
7830 Old Georgetown Road, Suite 204
Bethesda, MD 20814
Web site: http://chid.nih.gov
CHID Online is a searchable and user-friendly database produced
by more than a dozen health-related agencies of the Federal Government.
This database provides titles, abstracts, and availability information
for health information and health education resources, including acupuncture
and Chinese medicine.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative
Medicine (NCCAM) Clearinghouse
P.O. Box 8218
Silver Spring, MD 20907-8218
Telephone and TTY/TDY: 1888-644-6226
NCCAM Web site: http://nccam.nih.gov
The NCCAM Clearinghouse, the information arm of NIH's NCCAM, provides
information about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including
acupuncture, and the activities of the NCCAM. The NCCAM Web site has acupuncture
information and provides links to the Web sites of nine CAM research centers
(sponsored by the NCCAM), some of which are conducting acupuncture research.
NIH Consensus Program Information Center
P.O. Box 2577
Kensington, MD 20891
Web site: http://consensus.nih.gov
The Center provides free single copies of the Acupuncture Consensus Conference
Statement, the 138-page Program and Abstracts booklet, a bibliography
of more than 2,000 citations, and other information on NIH conferences.
The statement is located online at http://odp.od.nih.gov/consensus/cons/107/107_statement.htm.
U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM)
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894
Web site: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/databases/freemedl.html
The world's largest biomedical library containing more than 9 million
scientific and biomedical articles.
Web site: http://medlineplus.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/
An online consumer health information tool.
Information about more than 100 acupuncture books written for the public
is located online at http://acupuncture.com/Mktplace/Book1.htm.
A Manual of Acupuncture, by Peter Deadman and Mazin Al-Khafaji
(East Sussex, England: Journal of Chinese Medicine Publications,
A detailed guidebook to descriptions of the theories and actual specific
methods of acupuncture. It provides information on the channels, collaterals,
point categories, point selection methods, point location, and needling.
Basics of Acupuncture, by Gabriel Stux (Editor) and Bruce
Pomerantz (Berlin, Germany: Springer Verlag, 1995).
The most recent of several widely used texts by acupuncture researchers.
Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine,
by Harriet Beinfield and Efrem Korngold (New York, NY: Ballantine Books,
An overview of Chinese medicine, with case histories of treatments and
illustrated explanations of philosophy, components, and treatments.
Principles and Practice of Contemporary Acupuncture,
by Sung J. Liao, Matthew Lee, and Lorenz K.Y. Ng (New York, NY: Marcel
Contains translations of ancient Chinese medical classics previously unavailable
in English. Compares and contrasts traditional Chinese and Western scientific
The Chinese Way to Healing: Many Paths to Wholeness, by
Misha Ruth Cohen (New York, NY: The Berkeley Publishing Group, 1996).
A guidebook to Chinese medicine in the United States, with information
about diet, herbs, acupuncture, and finding qualified practitioners.
The Web That Has No Weaver, by Ted Kaptchuk (New York,
NY: Congdon and Weed, 1992).
An introduction to traditional Chinese medicine, with comparisons of Eastern
and Western medical treatments.
The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, by
Maoshing Ni (Boston, MA: Shambala Press, 1995).
A contemporary translation of the classic traditional Chinese medicine
text that dates from 2000 B.C.
These periodicals contain information about acupuncture research studies,
techniques, effects, and use. Look for "peer reviewed" journals,
which publish studies reviewed by researchers in the field to ensure suitability
Acupuncture and Electro-Therapeutics Research
Cognizant Communications Corporation
3 Hartsdale Road
Elmsford, NY 10523-3701
A peer-reviewed quarterly in its 23rd year and indexed/abstracted in MEDLINE.
Alternative Medicine Review: A Journal of Clinical Therapeutics
Thorne Research, Inc.
P.O. Box 3200
Sandpoint, ID 83864
Web site: http://www.thorne.com/altmedrev/index.html
A peer-reviewed bimonthly journal indexed/abstracted in MEDLINE.
Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine
101 Columbia Avenue
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
Web site: http://alternative-therapies.com/home.html
A peer-reviewed quarterly indexed/abstracted in MEDLINE.
American Journal of Acupuncture
1840 41st Avenue, Suite 102
Capitola, CA 95010
A quarterly peer-reviewed journal.
American Journal of Chinese Medicine
Institute for Advanced Research in Asian Science and Medicine
P.O. Box 555
Garden City, NY 11530
A peer-reviewed journal published three times a year and indexed/abstracted
European Journal of Oriental Medicine
179 Gloucester Place
London NW1 6DX
Telephone: 01717 245756
A quarterly research journal.
Guideposts: Acupuncture in Recovery
7402 NE 58th Street
Vancouver, WA 98662-5207
A newsletter concerning acupuncture used to treat addiction, alcoholism,
and mental health problems.
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine:
Research on Paradigm, Practice and Policy
Mary Ann Liebert, Publisher
2 Madison Avenue
Larchmont, NY 10538
Telephone: 1-800-654-3278 or 914-834-3100
A quarterly journal abstracted/indexed in MEDLINE.
Journal of Chinese Medicine
22 Cromwell Road
Hove BN3 3EB
Telephone: 01273 748588
Fax: 01273 748588
Web site: http://www.pavilion.co.uk/jcm
A professional journal published three times a year.
Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Co-sponsored by the China Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine
and Pharmacy and the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Distributed by the American Center of Chinese Medicine
3121 Park Avenue, Suite J
Soquel, CA 95073
Web site: http://www.jps.net/jtcm/profile.htm
A quarterly journal on clinical and theoretical research that is indexed/abstracted
American Academy of Medical Acupuncture
Medical Acupuncture Research Organization
5820 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 500
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Telephone: 1-800-521-2262 or 323-937-5514
Web site: http://www.medicalacupuncture.org
A professional association of medical doctors who practice acupuncture.
The academy provides a referral list of doctors who practice acupuncture.
It also provides general information about acupuncture, legislative representation,
publications, meetings, and proficiency examinations.
American Association of Oriental Medicine
433 Front Street
Catasauqua, PA 18032
Web site: http://www.aaom.org
A nonprofit professional organization of acupuncturists and practitioners
of Oriental medicine. The association determines standards of practice
and education through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture
and Oriental Medicine. It also funds research and provides a list of acupuncturists
and Oriental medicine practitioners by geographic area. The association
provides articles and fact sheets, membership and licensing information,
a list of acupuncture schools, and a list of state acupuncture associations.
British Medical Acupuncture Society
Newton House, Newton Lane
Whitley, Warrington, Cheshire WA4 4JA
Telephone: 01925 730727
Fax: 01925 730492
Web site: http://www.medical-acupuncture.co.uk
A group of doctors who practice acupuncture with more conventional treatments.
The Society produces the journal Acupuncture in Medicine, published
twice per year, covering original research and reviews.
Foundation for Traditional Chinese Medicine
122A Acomb Road
York YO2 4EY
Telephone: 01904 785120
Fax: 01904 784828
Web site: http://www.demon.co.uk/acupuncture/index.html
The Foundation funds the Acupuncture Research Resource Center and provides
information about acupuncture research listed by condition, including
migraine and lower back pain.
International Council of Medical Acupuncture
and Related Techniques
Rue de l'Amazone 62
Telephone: 03225 393900
Fax: 03225 393692
Web site: http://users.med.auth.gr/~karanik/english/icmart/intro.html
A nonprofit organization created in 1983 of more than 40 national acupuncture-related
associations of medical doctors practicing acupuncture and/or related
National Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance
14637 Starr Road SE
Olalla, WA 98359
Web site: http://www.acuall.org
A professional society of state-licensed, registered, or certified acupuncturists,
with membership open to consumers, schools, organizations, corporate sponsors,
and health care providers. The Alliance lists thousands of acupuncturists
across the country on its Web site and provides information about them
to callers to their information and referral line. The Alliance requires
documentation of state license or national board certification from all
acupuncturists it lists.
National Acupuncture Detoxification Association
P.O. Box 1927
Vancouver, WA 98668-1927
A nonprofit organization that provides training and consultation for more
than 500 drug and alcohol acupuncture treatment programs run by local
agencies. The organization's clearinghouse provides a library of audiotapes,
videotapes, and literature on using acupuncture to treat addiction and
National Acupuncture Foundation
P.O. Box 2271
Gig Harbor, WA 98335-4271
The Foundation publishes books, including the Acupuncture and Oriental
Medicine Law Book and the Clean Needle Technique Manual. The Foundation
filed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration needle reclassification petition
Society for Acupuncture Research
6900 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 700
Bethesda, MD 20815
A nonprofit organization that facilitates the scientific evaluation of
Training and Credentialing Organizations
Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture
and Oriental Medicine
1010 Wayne Avenue, Suite 1270
Silver Spring, MD 20910
The Commission, established in 1982, evaluates professional master's degree
and first professional master's-level certificate and diploma programs
in acupuncture and Oriental medicine, with concentrations in both acupuncture
and herbal therapy.
Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
1010 Wayne Avenue, Suite 1270
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Web site: http://www.ccaom.org
This Council was formed in 1982 and has developed academic and clinical
guidelines and core curriculum requirements for master's and doctoral
programs in acupuncture as well as acupuncture and Oriental medicine.
NAFTA Acupuncture Commission
Standards Management, Inc.
14637 Starr Road SE
Olalla, WA 98359
This group of educators, acupuncturists, medical doctors, and naturopathic
doctors meet to exchange information and discuss training standards of
competence for the practice of acupuncture and Oriental medicine in North
America, including Mexico and Canada.
National Certification Commission for Acupuncture
and Oriental Medicine
11 Canal Center Plaza, Suite 300
Alexandria, VA 22314
Web site: http://www.nccaom.org
This Commission was established in 1982 to implement nationally recognized
standards of competence for the practice of acupuncture and Oriental medicine.
It provides information and programs on certification standards for acupuncturists.
The Internet is one of the fastest ways to access health information,
but much of this information is not controlled or reviewed by qualified
health professionals. Approach information from the Internet with caution,
as it may be misleading, incorrect, or even dangerous.
Web site: http://www.acuall.org
A site sponsored by the National Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance
with general information on acupuncture and Oriental medicine, referrals
to practitioners, legislative status, national issues, conferences and
workshops, publications, and information for potential students.
Web site: http://www.acupuncture.com
Describes and summarizes acupuncture procedures, areas of research, and
other pertinent information from multiple sources.
Health Info Library: Acupuncture
Web site: http://www.americanwholehealth.com/library/acupuncture/tcm.htm
A site by the health care company American WholeHealth that provides acupuncture
articles and research.
Medical Acupuncture Web Page
Web site: http://www.med.auth.gr/~karanik
Includes information on international acupuncture associations, Web journals,
articles, veterinary acupuncture, books, bookstores, databases, and Internet
Web site: http://www.medmatrix.org
A gateway to clinical medical resources, including numerous medical journals.
National Library of Medicine. Current Bibliographies
Web site: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/cbm/acupuncture.html
Bibliographies to 2,302 scientific papers collected between January 1970
and October 1997.
Summary of Controlled Clinical Studies Demonstrating
the Effectiveness of Acupuncture Treatment for Various Conditions
Web site: http://www.halcyon.com/dember/studies.html
Summarizes studies on dental pain, migraine and headache, lower back pain,
cervical pain, tennis elbow, dysmenorrhea (menstrual disorders), addiction,
respiratory conditions, cardiovascular fitness, stroke, nausea, and sleep
Please send requests for information about complementary or alternative
P.O. Box 8218
Silver Spring, MD 20907-8218
1-888-644-6226 (1-888-NIH-NCAM) (Toll-free, TTY/TDY, and Fax-On-Demand)
http://nccam.nih.gov (NCCAM Web site)
Inclusion of a treatment or resource in this information package
does not imply endorsement by the National Center for Complementary
and Alternative Medicine, National Institutes of Health, or U.S.
Public Health Service.
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