Humans throughout history have practiced acupuncture for thousands of years, originating in China around 100BC. Its practitioners claim that the needles stimulate acupuncture points under the skin in order to relieve pain, reduce stress and remove inflammation from the body. But there are some practitioners who even go as far as to say that acupuncture can also be used to treat more serious issues like stomach problems, liver disease and even cancer.
These are bold claims, but are they backed by any sort of data or research? Well the short answer is no, however there may not be enough evidence for this to be completely conclusive when answering this question. There have been several studies over the years, the most noticeable of which was done recently in 2012. It consisted of a meta-analysis of 29 credible studies that in total examined around 18,000 participants.
The study found that acupuncture was effective at relieving chronic pain, and therefore merits reasonable consideration for the referral of a patient in pain. They did however state that not all acupuncture is administered properly and that in fact there are people practicing sham acupuncture. This is not good for the credibility status of acupuncture, and these scam artists are hurting the reputation of the practice.
Researchers also found acupuncture to be reasonably effective at treating the symptoms of cancer and other serious illnesses, rather than the actual illness itself. This could potentially be the source of the claims of its cancer-curing properties, but these are false statements that are again dangerous for the reputation of acupuncture.
In conclusion, we can see that acupuncture has a solid role in treating chronic pain and relieving the symptoms of some illnesses. The main benefit of using acupuncture rather than other methods like pharmaceutical drugs is the more holistic approach to relieving pain, as pain killers can have some negative side effects.