From Acupuncture to Vitamins: A guide to alternative therapies

With so many alternatives to conventional medicine, how do you know what works and what's just old-fashioned snake oil? Money Magazine takes a close look.

Acupuncture
Acupuncture
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 treatment
First 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."

Acupuncture

Herbs

Homeopathy

Supplements

Massage

Meditation

Chiropractic
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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.