SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Activists in California are promoting acupuncture as an effective alternative to manage pain and combat the opioid crisis.
Acupuncturists see great potential in this ancient Chinese medical technique since the Trump administration declared the opioid crisis a national emergency four months ago.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the opioid epidemic, triggered by a significant rise in the prescription of powerful painkillers, is responsible for more than 140 deaths every day in the United States.
"I'm confident in the future of acupuncture," said Michelle Lau, president of the American Alliance of Acupuncture. As more and more people turn to acupuncture to seek pain relief, they will recognize the efficacy of the treatment, she said.
Acupuncture, which has been practiced in China for thousands of years, is being increasingly embraced by patients and doctors in the United States. There are about 45,000 licensed acupuncturists in the country.
California began regulating the practice in 1975. It has had more than 11,000 licensed acupuncturists so far.
Michelle Cui, who lives in Cupertino City, first tried acupuncture two years ago to treat a tumor. After several sessions, the tumor shrank dramatically. She told Xinhua it's something that Western medicine couldn't do.
Today she is a frequent visitor at the acupuncture clinic to have other conditions treated, like headaches and menstrual cramps.
Hundreds of clinical studies on the benefits of acupuncture show that it helps relieve pain and treats nausea, depression, insomnia and infertility, according to the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California San Diego.
Lau said despite the large number of licensed acupuncturists, there's an increasing demand for experienced, well-trained acupuncturists.
She and others in California are pushing for state legislation to discipline acupuncture education, so that students are better prepared to work in U.S. mainstream medicine.
"We hope that Governor (Jerry) Brown can sign the bill in his final year as governor," Lau said, calling Brown the "father of acupuncture".
During his first term as governor, Brown signed a bill in 1975, creating the Acupuncture Advisory Committee (now California Acupuncture Board), making California the first U.S. state to regulate acupuncture.