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What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine in which thin needles are inserted into the body. It is a key component of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). TCM theory and practice are not based upon scientific knowledge, and acupuncture is a pseudoscience. There are a diverse range of acupuncture theories based on different philosophies,and techniques vary depending on the country. The method used in TCM is likely the most widespread in the US. It is most often used for pain relief, though it is also used for a wide range of other conditions. Acupuncture is generally used only in combination with other forms of treatment.

The conclusions of many trials and numerous systematic reviews of acupuncture are largely inconsistent. An overview of Cochrane reviews found that acupuncture is not effective for a wide range of conditions.A systematic review of systematic reviews found little evidence of acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating pain. The evidence suggests that short-term treatment with acupuncture does not produce long-term benefits