Acupuncture is an ancient form of medicine which can relieve health issues such as back pain, anxiety, stress, skin problems, or fertility issues. It is sometimes referred to as complementary medicine or alternative medicine or integrative medicine. So which is it, you might ask? It is, in fact, all of the above.

Here’s a good article published by U.S. News which explains what is meant by the umbrella term CAM (Alternative Medicine and Complementary Medicine) and where it fits with conventional Western medicine.

In the, researchers and practitioners talk about these. Acupuncture researcher and practitioner, Mel Hopper Koppleman has the following to say about acupuncture: “….Clinically, acupuncture is helpful for people who have symptoms and conditions that are made worse by stress, which is most chronic conditions,” said Mel Hopper Koppelman, an acupuncturist and the director of Evidence Based Acupuncture, in an email. “This is partly to do with its effect on quickly rebalancing the autonomic nervous system as well as its role on the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates hormones and the stress response…..”

Alternative medicine has been defined by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health as “…any non-conventional interventions that are used instead of conventional treatments, not in conjunction with them…..” whereas Complementary Medicine is defined as alternative treatments used in conjunction with mainstream treatment….” Acupuncture is an example of Complementary medicine. For example, …”Using acupuncture in conjunction with standard pharmacological treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee… a form of complementary medicine that has been proven to be more effective than the conventional treatment alone……”

Therefore, acupuncture is also an Integrative Health Care because it brings “….conventional and complementary approaches together in a coordinated way…..”and “….looks holistically at the patient, including all aspects of their lifestyle, their community, their environment, in addition to physical and emotional aspects of their health……” In order words, it aims to resolve the root cause of a health issue and not just the symptoms.

Acupuncture is an effective form of alternative medicine that has proven to treat over 20 conditions including depression, hypertension and stroke, according to clinical studies conducted by the University of California San Diego Center for Integrative Medicine. (SPENCER GREEN/AP)

I hope this clarifies where acupuncture stands in terms of CAM and integrative medicine, if you were wondering!