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Alternative Medicine – Not So Alternative Anymore…

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are health alternatives
Alternative medicine, acupuncture and Chinese medicine are gaining popularity

While it may be seen as a new or “alternative” medicine in the United States, Chinese Medicine is actually one of the oldest complete medical systems practiced today. In fact, acupuncture – a part of Chinese Medicine – has been in use for over 2,000 years and is one of the most commonly used medical procedures worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80% of people rely on alternative medicine for their primary care in many Asian and African nations and that in many developed nations, 70-80% of people have used alternative medicine.

And, the use of alternative medicine is growing here in the U.S., becoming more of a complement to traditional Western medical treatments, and making it not so “alternative” anymore…

In fact, studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), USA Today, ABC News and Stanford University all point to increasing numbers of Americans using acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. The most recent CDC study found that nearly 3.3 million U.S. adults and children had used acupuncture in the previous year. Additionally, a 2005 USA Today/ABC News/Stanford University Medical Center poll found that 5% of American adults have turned to acupuncture for pain relief.

Even the U.S. military is bringing alternative medicine into the mainstream of its medical services and treatments – the U.S. Army recently announced a program utilizing acupuncture to treat post traumatic stress disorder in soldiers and a recent Army pain management report recommended alternative medicine treatments like acupuncture, mediation and yoga.

In another illustration of how acupuncture and Chinese Medicine are taking hold and being evaluated as not-so-alternative medical treatments, the NIH’s National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine is currently recruiting for nearly 100 clinical trials evaluating alternative medicine as a safe and effective treatment for ailments and diseases ranging from back pain to autoimmune disorders.

The good news is, to meet this growing demand, there are more practitioners of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine than ever before. A study published in the Annals of Family Medicine journal in 2005 cites that there are now more than 50 acupuncture schools accredited in the U.S. and that 42 states have statutes that allow the practice of acupuncture by nonphysicians.

So, it may be that in another few years, “alternative” medicine has a new not-so-alternative name…

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