TODAY   |  May 15, 2010

More Americans turning to acupuncture

The plain truth is that modern medicine cannot explain, or cure, all that ails us. For some, acupuncture can provide lasting relief from pain where the strongest painkillers have failed. Acupuncturist Daniel Hsu debunks some of the myths about this ancient practice going through a bit of a revival.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> a home loan expert.

>>> this morning, the truth about acupuncture, the very sight of needless makes you cringe, the idea of sticking a whole handful in your body at the same time might seem down right nuts. but more and more americans are finding comfort and healing in this ancient eastern medical practice . acupuncture, the ancient chinese art of healing around for 2,500 years and now finding a following among 3 million americans . like sarah sozlo. needless that look like they could cause pain take it away instead.

>> the needless are very small, once they're in, you don't feel any discomfort at all. every once in a while you sort of feel a tingling.

>> reporter: the needless are ments to stimulate certain points and balance the body's chi or life energy . dan schu is her acupuncturists, where he puts the needless and how deep depends on the ailment. for sarah it's migraines. for dan, it's arthritis.

>> i had knee surgery about a year ago and i news acupuncture as a way to help alleviate some of the pain. i have tried various treatments, some medications and patches that didn't seem to work.

>> occasionally, electricity is fed through the need less to provide extra stimulation. usually treatments are weekly and last anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour.

>> how do you feel?

>> great, thank you.

>> reporter: a century's old practice still healing one needle at a time.

>> it made a huge improvement in my life. it's definitely worth a chance, it doesn't hurt.

>> reporter: yes, i have two needless in my ear and acupuncture specialist dr. daniel schue joins me this morning. great to see you, i think.

>> tell me what you just did to me, because you jammed two needless into my ear.

>> amy said she wanted them in your face, but i put them in your ear instead.

>> what am i supposed to be feeling after you jammed two needless into my head?

>> what acupunctures regulate neurohormones and neurotransmitters in the brain. the ear is a microsystem of acupuncture and it has all sorts of pathways to the brain. it's easy accessible, you don't have to take off your clothes so it's a great way to do acupuncture.

>> we hear about chi surrounding acupuncture, but what is chi?

>> it's a metaphor, kind of a word that's used for the metal bollic functions in the body.

>> what specific ailments do people come to you most for acupuncture and say, doctor, i need help?

>> the world health organization lists about 28 different ailments that are difficult proven to be treatable with acupuncture and 80 others that are actually very effective. but in new york , i get a lot of patients with pain, you know, a lot of weekend warriors that go out and they run and they workout, so i've got a lot of pain and a lot of stress also. stress and that kind of stuff.

>> do you find people come to you saying the other things have not worked now i'm coming to you, or are people starting to turn to acupuncture first?

>> at times, yes. acupuncture is not a panacea. it's a very, very effective form of treatment that should be used as a complement try alternative and an integrated part of medicine .

>> how long do these needless stay in my ear?

>> these would be in for the minimum 20 minutes or so. they could stay in a lot longer, there's other sources of acupuncture and accupressure devices that can be in for days at a time. there are little metal balls that you can actually press in the surface of the ear that will create acupuncture points that will be pressed on acupuncture points for days at a time. in fact the military now is using acupuncture to treat our fine soldiers overseas for pain and it's called battlefield acupuncture.

>> all kidding aside , it actually doesn't hurt, you poked them in initially, but i don't have any specific pain, but i think i'll start coming to you if i do. we're back, but first this