Acupuncture is a treatment based on ancient Chinese medicine. Traditional Chinese acupuncture usually is done by putting very thin needles into the skin at certain points on the body to produce energy flow along the body's meridians; other types of acupuncture may use heat, pressure, or mild electrical current to stimulate energy flow along these meridians.

Some people may use acupuncture to treat alcohol use or addiction problems, fibromyalgia, back pain, and many other conditions. There is some evidence that acupuncture may stimulate the production of the body's natural painkillers (endorphins, serotonin, and acetylcholine).

In general, acupuncture is safe when done by a certified acupuncturist. A state license ensures that the acupuncturist has a certain level of training and follows certain practice guidelines, such as using sterilized needles that are disposed of after one use. In the United States, acupuncture needles are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as therapeutic devices.

Current as of: May 22, 2015

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine