The practice of acupuncture originated in China 5,000 years ago. Today it is widely used throughout the world and is one of the main pillars of Chinese medicine. There are many different varieties of the practice of acupuncture, both in the Orient and in the West. The most common forms available to westerners are as follows. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) usually combines acupuncture with Chinese herbs. Classical acupuncture (also known as five element acupuncture) uses a different needling technique and relies on acupuncture independent of the use of herbs. Japanese acupuncture uses smaller needles than the other varieties. Medical acupuncture refers to acupuncture practiced by a conventional medical doctor. Auricular acupuncture treats the entire body through acupuncture points in the ears only. Electroacupuncture uses electrical currents attached to acupuncture needles. Aside from needles, other methods of stimulation are also considered forms of "acupuncture." These include the use of heat from the burning of herbs placed on specific points ("moxibustion") and the placement of herbal pastes on specific points. Research on the effectiveness of acupuncture has special challenges. These include the diversity of approaches, the practice of individualizing treatment for each patient, differing skill levels between practitioners, and difficulty separating out the effects of acupuncture from placebo effects (i.e., how the patient's beliefs and expectations affect his/her perception of symptoms). Based on acupuncture's long history of use as well as the limited research available, both the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health have identified many conditions for which it may be recommended. However, many common uses do not yet have formal scientific evidence to support them.
Biofeedback is a purported technique for helping an individual become conscious of otherwise unconscious body processes. Through conveying information about blood pressure, heart rate, skin temperature, galvanic skin response (sweating), and muscle tension in real-time, biofeedback aims to raise awareness and conscious control of the related physiological (natural biological processes) activities. In essence, biofeedback attempts to use the mind to control the body. Neal Miller, a psychologist and neuroscientist who worked and studied at Yale University, is generally considered to be the father of modern-day biofeedback. In the 1950s, he came across the basic principles of biofeedback when doing animal experimentation conditioning the behavior of rats. His team found that by stimulating the pleasure centers of the rats' brains with electricity, it was possible to train rats to control phenomena ranging from their heart rates to their brainwaves. Until that point, it was believed that bodily processes like heart rate were under the control of the autonomic nervous system and not responsive to conscious effort. Biofeedback has been shown to be helpful in treating a variety of medical conditions including asthma, Raynaud's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, hot flashes, nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, incontinence, headaches, irregular heartbeats (cardiac arrhythmias), high blood pressure, and epilepsy. Other common uses may include the treatment of stress and stress-related conditions such as anxiety and insomnia. Interest in biofeedback has fluctuated since its development in the 1960s. Today, it is becoming popular once more, possibly because of the general increase of interest in complementary and alternative medicine modalities.