Acupuncture is a technique of inserting and manipulating fine filiform needles into specific points on the body with the aim of relieving pain and for therapeutic purposes. According to traditional Chinese acupuncture theory, these acupuncture points lie along meridians along which qi, the vital energy, flows. There is no physically verifiable anatomical or histological basis for the existence of acupuncture points or meridians. Modern acupuncturists tend to view them in functional rather than structural terms. Acupuncture originated in China and is most commonly associated with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Different types of acupuncture (Classical Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Vietnamese and Korean acupuncture) are practiced and taught throughout the world.
While acupuncture has been a subject of active scientific research since the late 20th century, its effects are not well-understood, and it remains controversial among researchers and clinicians. The body of evidence remains inconclusive but is active and growing, and a 2007 review by Edzard Ernst and colleagues finds that the “emerging clinical evidence seems to imply that acupuncture is effective for some but not all conditions.”
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 all studied and commented on the efficacy (or lack thereof) of acupuncture. There is general agreement that chinese medicine and acupuncture is safe when administered by well-trained practitioners using sterile needles, and that further research is appropriate.