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Acupuncture Is Popular, but You'll Need to Pay
A growing number of people are turning to acupuncture for help with conditions including infertility, chronic pain, depression and menopause symptoms. And they are turning to it even though financially it remains a largely out-of-pocket form of health care.
In a 2007 survey, 3.1 million adults reported using acupuncture in the previous 12 months, up from 2.1 million in a 2002 survey, according to the government’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a unit of the National Institutes of Health.
The center’s Web site is mainly neutral on the question of acupuncture’s effectiveness, and it urges people to go to a medical doctor — not an acupuncturist — to have a medical condition diagnosed. Acupuncture can have a powerful effect on your system, but serious ailments typically require a dose of Western medicine, like a course of antibiotics, a prescription-strength pain killer or even surgery.
Still, there are a handful of well-respected studies indicating that acupuncture can be an effective treatment for a range of conditions, like chronic headaches, osteoarthritis, depression in pregnancy and low back pain.
Western doctors are beginning to embrace it, sometimes sending their patients to acupuncturists for specific conditions. Read more.