Acupuncture is the ancient Chinese art of sticking needles into people in order to heal them of various ailments. It has been used in the West since before World War II, and its adherents swear by its efficacy.
Acupuncture depends upon the theory that patients’ bodies contain an undetectable energy called ‘chi’ (or, in more modern spelling, ‘qi’), which exists in both positive and negative aspects (much like ‘the Force’ from Star Wars). Chi flows through the body along pathways referred to as meridians, and the acupuncturist interrupts, or redirects, the flow of chi using long, thin needles. The insertion of the needles is apparently less painful than anticipated.
Though not formally recognized as a recommended practice among modern Western physicians, acupuncture is one of many alternative therapies encouraged by groups like the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.