Twenty needles - nine pierced in each leg and two in the belly - with the probes attached to a mild electrical current gave Harold Katcoff of Baltimore, us , the relief that aspirins, steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs could not. Suffering from osteoarthritis (a chronic disease of the joints caused due to partial loss of their smooth cartilage linings) for over a year, Katcoff is today a firm believer of acupuncture, the traditional Chinese cure.
Scoffed at as "quackupuncture" by some medical scientists, alternate therapies like acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy and naturopathy have set a new trend in the West. So much so that a us $2.5 million government sponsored study has been initiated at the University of Maryland to put to test alternative health care. Other similar multimillion-dollar clinical trials are underway at some of the most prestigious university hospitals in usa.
The boom has been triggered off by the National Institutes of Health, which had to increase its budget for studies of alternative medicine under pressure from the Congress. On the other hand, medical practitioners, hospitals and medical schools in the us are gradually coming to terms with the fact that alternative medicine means big business. According to a report in the Nutrition Business Journal , us citizens spent $27.2 billion in 1998 on alternative health care.