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Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine consisting of the insertion of thin solid needles at specific points in the patient's body. The practice dates back to at least the 2nd century BCE in China.
Although some clinical trials have indicated the practice can have some effect on pain and nausea, modern medicine rejects the practice as having no scientific basis, although the majority physicans are of the opinion that it is useful to treat many types of chronic pain. Many of the clinical trials appear to have had insufficient controls, meaning that the positive results may have been due to random chance and not because of any clinical benefit. However, there is agreement that the treatment, when performed by an experienced practitioner with sterile needles, poses no adverse health risks.
Regulation of acupuncture is very inconsistent. Only a few jurisdictions in North America have any type of licensing scheme for acupuncture practitioners. Insurance coverage is similarly inconsistent with about half of plans covering the procedure.