Acupuncture (from Latin, 'acus' (needle) + 'punctura' (to puncture)) is the stimulation of specific acupuncture points along the skin of the body involving various methods such as penetration by thin needles or the application of heat, pressure, or laser light. Clinical practice varies depending on the country. Traditional acupuncture involves needle insertion, moxibustion, and cupping therapy. It is a form of alternative medicine and a key component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). According to TCM, stimulating specific acupuncture points corrects imbalances in the flow of qi through channels known as meridians. The TCM theory and practice are not based upon scientific knowledge. Acupuncture aims to treat a range of conditions, though is most commonly used for pain relief. It is rarely used alone but rather as an adjunct to other treatment modalities.
Acupuncture has been the subject of active scientific research, both in regard to its basis and therapeutic effectiveness, since the late 20th century. Scientific investigation has not found any histological or physiological evidence for traditional Chinese concepts such as qi, meridians, and acupuncture points,and some contemporary practitioners use acupuncture without following the traditional Chinese approachand have abandoned the concepts of qi and meridians as pseudoscientific.TCM is largely pseudoscience, with no valid mechanism of action for the majority of its treatments. Acupuncture is currently used widely throughout China and many other countries, including the United States. It is uncertain exactly when acupuncture originated or how it evolved, but it is generally thought to derive from ancient China. Chinese history attributes the introduction of acupuncture to the emperor Shennong. Hieroglyphs and pictographs have been found dating from the Shang Dynasty (1600–1100 BCE), which suggests that acupuncture was practiced along with moxibustion.
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