For more than 4,000 years people in Asia have used acupuncture to treat illnesses. It is an old Chinese form of healing in which your skin is pierced with thin needles to relieve pain. Today acupuncture is also very popular in Europe, America and Australia. Acupuncture can control pain and sickness. It can also be used if you have a headache or back pain. Some doctors use acupuncture along with regular treatments for asthma, high blood pressure or stress. Doctors have even used acupuncture to stop pain during an operation. Some people think that acupuncture can treat depression and even help people to stop smoking. Many patients feel more energy after a treatment, while others may feel more relaxed. People who practice acupuncture must take courses to learn how to do it correctly. In many places, especially outside of Asia, only doctors are allowed to perform acupuncture. During treatment the patient lies on and needles are stuck into certain points of the body. There are hundreds of possible points and each one has a certain effect on the body. The points can also be very far away from the place of pain. For example you stick a needle into the hand to treat problems with your stomach. Acupuncture needles are made of metal and about as thick as a human hair. They normally go less than one cm into the skin. When they are in the skin the acupuncturist may twist them or send electricity through them. The patients rest for a short time and then the needles are removed. Acupuncture normally doesn't hurt. There is also a milder form of acupuncture called acupressure where you don't need needles. Doctors use their fingers to press the points of the body. Chinese medicine teaches us that all acupuncture points are located along pathways called meridians. Each of these meridians carries energy, which the Chinese call "qi" to certain Acupuncture - Sticking Needles into Patientspoints of the body. If this "qi" gets blocked from an area the person will get sick or feel pain. Sticking needles into the correct points can help "qi" flow again and make the person well. Doctors today are not sure how acupuncture really works. They have not found any proof that these pathways of energy really exist. Some think that needles cause the body to produce pain killing substances. Others think that the needles block pain signals that travel along the nerves to the brain. Some also say that acupuncture only works because patients believe in it.