Acupuncture

One type of acupuncture needle
Acupuncture needles
Traditional and modern Japanese guiding tube needles
Old Chinese medical chart of acupuncture meridians
Modern acupuncture model
Acupuncture chart from the Ming dynasty (c. 1368–1644)
Acupuncture chart from Shisi jing fahui (Expression of the Fourteen Meridians) written by Hua Shou (fl. 1340s, Ming dynasty). Japanese reprint by Suharaya Heisuke (Edo, 1. year Kyōhō = 1716).
An ancient Acupuncture statue at the lobby of the Emperor's College clinic, California
Acupressure being applied to a hand.
Sujichim, hand acupuncture
Japanese moxibustion
A woman receiving fire cupping in China.

Form of alternative medicine and a component of traditional Chinese medicine in which thin needles are inserted into the body.

- Acupuncture

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Diagram of the interactions between the wuxing. The "generative" cycle is illustrated by grey arrows running clockwise on the outside of the circle, while the "destructive" or "conquering" cycle is represented by red arrows inside the circle.

Wuxing (Chinese philosophy)

Fivefold conceptual scheme that many traditional Chinese fields used to explain a wide array of phenomena, from cosmic cycles to the interaction between internal organs, and from the succession of political regimes to the properties of medicinal drugs.

Fivefold conceptual scheme that many traditional Chinese fields used to explain a wide array of phenomena, from cosmic cycles to the interaction between internal organs, and from the succession of political regimes to the properties of medicinal drugs.

Diagram of the interactions between the wuxing. The "generative" cycle is illustrated by grey arrows running clockwise on the outside of the circle, while the "destructive" or "conquering" cycle is represented by red arrows inside the circle.
Tablet in the Temple of Heaven of Beijing, written in Chinese and Manchu, dedicated to the gods of the Five Movements. The Manchu word usiha, meaning "star", explains that this tablet is dedicated to the five planets: Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Venus and Mercury and the movements which they govern.
Another illustration of the cycle.
Five Elements – diurnal cycle

These theories have been extensively practiced in Japanese acupuncture and traditional Kampo medicine.

Marcia Angell: "There cannot be two kinds of medicine – conventional and alternative".

Alternative medicine

Any practice that aims to achieve the healing effects of medicine, but which lacks biological plausibility and is untested, untestable or proven ineffective.

Any practice that aims to achieve the healing effects of medicine, but which lacks biological plausibility and is untested, untestable or proven ineffective.

Marcia Angell: "There cannot be two kinds of medicine – conventional and alternative".
"They told me if I took 1000 pills at night I should be quite another thing in the morning", an early 19th-century satire on Morison's Vegetable Pills, an alternative medicine supplement.
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Acupuncture involves insertion of needles in the body.
A chiropractor "adjusting" the spine
Edzard Ernst, an authority on scientific study of alternative therapies and diagnoses, and the first university professor of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Here in 2012, promoting his book Trick or Treatment co-written with Simon Singh.
Friendly and colorful images of herbal treatments may look less threatening or dangerous when compared to conventional medicine. This is an intentional marketing strategy.
Health campaign flyers, as in this example from the Food and Drug Administration, warn the public about unsafe products.
Christian laying on of hands, prayer intervention, and faith healing
Indian Ayurvedic medicine includes a belief that the spiritual balance of mind influences disease.
Medicinal herbs in a traditional Spanish market
Traditional medicines in Madagascar
Assorted dried plant and animal parts used in traditional Chinese medicine
Shaman healer in Sonora, Mexico.
Phytotherapy (herbal medicine): an engraving of magnolia glauca in Jacob Bigelow's American Medical Botany

For example, acupuncture (piercing the body with needles to influence the flow of a supernatural energy) might be believed to increase the effectiveness or "complement" science-based medicine when used at the same time.

Moxibustion by Li Tang, Song dynasty

Moxibustion

Traditional Chinese medicine therapy which consists of burning dried mugwort on particular points on the body.

Traditional Chinese medicine therapy which consists of burning dried mugwort on particular points on the body.

Moxibustion by Li Tang, Song dynasty
Moxibustion in Michael Bernhard Valentini's Museum Museorum (Frankfurt am Main, 1714)
First page of Shimetarō Hara: "Effects of Moxa on hemoglobin and RBC count". Iji Shinbun, no. 1219, 10 Sept. 1927. (Summary in Esperanto)
a Korean set of tteum
application of tteum on the back of a hand
Samples of Japanese Moxa. Left to right: processed mugwort (1st stage); processed mugwort (2nd stage); coarse Moxa for indirect moxibustion; usual quality for indirect and direct moxibustion; superior quality for direct moxibustion.
Traditional moxibustion set from Maibara (Japan)
Stick–on moxa (left) and moxa rolls (right) used for indirect moxa heat treatment. The stick-on moxa is a modern product sold in Japan, Korea, and China. Usually the base is self-adhesive to the treatment point.
The cervix point was used to treat retained placenta and intrauterine death.
The Neiting point was used to remedy retrograde cold (jueni) in the limbs; aversion to noise; profuse breakout of pox; painful, inflamed throats; unremitting toothache; yawning and somnolence; lack of appetite for food and drink; tinnitus (lit. cricket chirp [chanming] in the ear); ague (nüeji), etc.
The Yanglingquan point was used pain and swelling in the feet and knees; wind-cold-damp blockage disease (bi); one-sided paralysis; heavy, aching feeling in the back, making it difficult to sit or stand; facial oedema (fuzhong); distention and feeling of fullness (zhangman) in the chest, etc.
The Taichong point was indicated for acute and chronic infantile convulsions (lit. wind fright, jingfeng); epilepsy (dianxian) and spasms; sore throat; distention and feeling of fullness (zhangman) in the chest and sides; cold-damp beri-beri (jiaoqi); difficulty in walking; hernia (shanqi); dim vision; backache, etc.
The zhong 'e point was targeted for corpse infection (shizhu) and inimical visitation (kewu), malign attack (zhong 'e) [forms of demonic possession], etc. Moxibustion takes place on the left for male patients and the right for female patients.
Scrofula was to be treated at the point where it occurred, with garlic-partition moxibustion (gesuan jiufa).

They can use it indirectly, with acupuncture needles, or burn it on the patient's skin.

Jan Baptist van Helmont (left) and his son Franciscus-Mercurius from the Ortus medicinae (1648)

Evidence-based medicine

Evidence-based medicine (EBM) is "the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients".

Evidence-based medicine (EBM) is "the conscientious, explicit and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients".

Jan Baptist van Helmont (left) and his son Franciscus-Mercurius from the Ortus medicinae (1648)

However, because they differ on the extent to which they require good evidence of effectiveness before promoting a guideline or payment policy, a distinction is sometimes made between evidence-based medicine and science-based medicine, which also takes into account factors such as prior plausibility and compatibility with established science (as when medical organizations promote controversial treatments such as acupuncture).

The scientific method is a continuous cycle of observation, questioning, hypothesis, experimentation, analysis and conclusion.

Pseudoscience

Pseudoscience consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that claim to be both scientific and factual but are incompatible with the scientific method.

Pseudoscience consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that claim to be both scientific and factual but are incompatible with the scientific method.

The scientific method is a continuous cycle of observation, questioning, hypothesis, experimentation, analysis and conclusion.
A typical 19th-century phrenology chart: During the 1820s, phrenologists claimed the mind was located in areas of the brain, and were attacked for doubting that mind came from the nonmaterial soul. Their idea of reading "bumps" in the skull to predict personality traits was later discredited. Phrenology was first termed a pseudoscience in 1843 and continues to be considered so.
The astrological signs of the zodiac
Homeopathic preparation Rhus toxicodendron, derived from poison ivy

Some modern pseudosciences, such as astrology and acupuncture, originated before the scientific era.

A digitized copy of the Su Wen of the Huangdi Neijing for online reading

Huangdi Neijing

Ancient Chinese medical text or group of texts that has been treated as a fundamental doctrinal source for Chinese medicine for more than two millennia.

Ancient Chinese medical text or group of texts that has been treated as a fundamental doctrinal source for Chinese medicine for more than two millennia.

A digitized copy of the Su Wen of the Huangdi Neijing for online reading

The second and generally less referred-to text, the Lingshu (靈樞; Spiritual Pivot), discusses acupuncture therapy in great detail.

Traditional Chinese medicines/dried goods shop in Kowloon, Hong Kong

Traditional Chinese medicine

Alternative medical practice drawn from traditional medicine in China.

Alternative medical practice drawn from traditional medicine in China.

Traditional Chinese medicines/dried goods shop in Kowloon, Hong Kong
The Compendium of Materia Medica is a pharmaceutical text written by Li Shizhen (1518–1593 CE) during the Ming dynasty of China. This edition was published in 1593.
Acupuncture chart from Hua Shou (fl. 1340s, Yuan dynasty). This image from Shi si jing fa hui (Expression of the Fourteen Meridians). (Tokyo: Suharaya Heisuke kanko, Kyoho gan 1716).
Yin and yang symbol for balance. In traditional Chinese Medicine, good health is believed to be achieved by various balances, including a balance between yin and yang.
Interactions of Wu Xing
Old Chinese medical chart on acupuncture meridians
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Assorted dried plant and animal parts used in traditional Chinese medicines, clockwise from top left corner: dried Lingzhi (lit. "spirit mushrooms"), ginseng, Luo Han Guo, turtle shell underbelly (plastron), and dried curled snakes.
Chinese red ginseng roots
A bile bear in a "crush cage" on Huizhou Farm, China.
Dried seahorses are extensively used in traditional medicine in China and elsewhere.
Dried human placenta (Ziheche (紫河车) is used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Artemisia annua, traditionally used to treat fever, has been found to have antimalarial properties.
Galena (lead ore) is part of historical TCM. 
Standard American TCM practice considers lead-containing herbs obsolete.
Needles being inserted into the skin
A bronze acupuncture statue from the Ming Dynasty being displayed inside a museum
An example of a traditional Chinese medicine used in tui na
Acupuncture and moxibustion after cupping in Japan
Gua sha
The Chinese traditional medicine at one of Chinese traditional medicine shop at Jagalan Road, Surabaya, Indonesia.
Seirogan, a type of antidiarrhoeal drug in Japan developed based on Kanpo medicine theory
The logo of the Dutch Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine (or 中 Zhong - Nederlandse Vereniging voor Traditionele Chinese Geneeskunde), the largest of the professional organisations that is recognised by private health insurance companies in the Netherlands.

TCM is said to be based on such texts as Huangdi Neijing (The Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor), and Compendium of Materia Medica, a sixteenth-century encyclopedic work, and includes various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, cupping therapy, gua sha, massage (tui na), bonesetter (die-da), exercise (qigong), and dietary therapy.

Anterior view showing the sciatic nerve going down the right leg

Sciatica

Pain going down the leg from the lower back.

Pain going down the leg from the lower back.

Anterior view showing the sciatic nerve going down the right leg
Sciatica often results in pain radiating down the leg
Left: Illustration of herniated spinal disc, superior view. Right: MRI showing herniated L5-S1 disc (red arrow tip), sagittal view.
Straight leg test sometimes used to help diagnose a lumbar herniated disc

Many treatments, including corticosteroids, gabapentin, pregabalin, acupuncture, heat or ice, and spinal manipulation, have limited or poor evidence for their use.

Acupuncture point LI-4 (Hegu) known in Chinese as 合谷 (hégǔ)

Acupressure

Acupuncture point LI-4 (Hegu) known in Chinese as 合谷 (hégǔ)

Acupressure is an alternative medicine technique often used in conjunction with acupuncture or reflexology.

The location of the 19 pain areas for the Widespread Pain Index of fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia

Medical condition defined by the presence of chronic widespread pain, fatigue, waking unrefreshed, cognitive symptoms, lower abdominal pain or cramps, and depression.

Medical condition defined by the presence of chronic widespread pain, fatigue, waking unrefreshed, cognitive symptoms, lower abdominal pain or cramps, and depression.

The location of the 19 pain areas for the Widespread Pain Index of fibromyalgia
A woman feeling stress
The location of the nine paired tender points that comprise the 1990 American College of Rheumatology criteria for fibromyalgia
Widespread pain index (WPI) areas

Weak recommendations are given to mindfulness, psychotherapy, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and meditative exercise such as qigong, yoga, and tai chi.