Cost: Between $50 and $100 for an initial visit and less for subsequent visits
Covered by insurance: Private plans, usually; Medicare, no
Bottom Line: Safe and effective for pain and nausea treatmentFirst used more than 2,000 years ago in China, acupuncture was introduced in the U.S. in the 1970s and has grown increasingly popular as more patients, dissatisfied with traditional medicine, opt for it.
Acupuncture is based on the theory that a vital energy flows through the body along 12 pathways, and that blockages of those pathways cause pain.
The National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) says that acupuncture relieves pain and helps minimize nausea after chemotherapy or anesthetic.
It's also useful for treating addiction, headache, menstrual cramps, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and asthma. Side effects are minimal.
Seeking to treat cancer? Don't risk precious time by trying acupuncture as your first line of attack.
"Anyone with cancer or a life-threatening disease should be under the care of an M.D.," says P. Shane Burras, a licensed Los Angeles acupuncturist and treasurer of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
"Acupuncture," he says, "is a supportive therapy."