The Impact of Medical Dominance

Acupuncture is still used extensively in China, both alone and in conjunction with Western medicine, and it is used increasingly in the West. The World Health Organization considers acupuncture effective and safe for relieving anxiety, panic disorders, insomnia, postoperative and dental pain, and nausea caused by pregnancy or chemotherapy.

Widespread American interest in acupuncture began during the 1970s when the People’s Republic of China first opened to U.S. travelers. Early travelers brought back near-miraculous tales of acupuncture anesthesia and treatment. Because American doctors had no scien- tific model that could account for acupuncture’s effects, these tales threatened their position and worldview. As a result, various well-known doc- tors publicly denounced acupuncture, claiming it worked only as a placebo or only because Chinese stoicism or revolutionary zeal allowed them to ignore pain even though acupuncture also had worked on animals and on Western travelers to China.

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