Medicine: Pins Against Pain

For at least 21 millenniums, Chinese physicians have used acupuncture to relieve pain and treat conditions ranging from arthritis to impotence. Practitioners in recent years have found an important new use for the ancient art of inserting needles at selected points in the body—as an operating-room anesthetic. It is in this form that acupuncture is finally beginning to attract serious attention in the U.S.

American physicians visiting China last year were amazed to see patients remaining awake and even cheerful during major surgery. While there is still a good deal of skepticism in the...

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