East meets West
Historically, Chinese medicine arrived in the U.S. through the doctors who immigrated here, some as early as the 1800's. The American interest in acupuncture exploded in the 1970's after President Richard Nixon's historic visit with Peoples Republic of China. There were a series of meetings from February 21st through 28th, 1972 with President Nixon and his entourage with high Chinese governmental officials designed to open up trade between the two nations. President Nixon's Secretary of State, Henry A. Kissinger, traveled to China accompanied by a journalist for the New York Times. The journalist, named James Reston, fell ill and ended up in a Chinese hospital requiring an emergency appendectomy. The Chinese doctors used acupuncture to promote healing and pain relief.
Intrigued and impressed with the effectiveness of his experience with acupuncture, James Reston wrote about his hospitalization and acupuncture treatment in the New York Times, which introduced many Americans for the first time to acupuncture.
As more people began to experience the benefits of acupuncture, more investigation about its effects occurred as it was the subject of clinical study. The studies validated more and more what patients of acupuncture already knew --- that it works. Many people in medicine (both traditional or 'bio-medicine or 'western' medicine as well as 'eastern' (or Oriental or Chinese medicine) do not have the position that acupuncture should replace Western medicine, but rather that it both have valid uses and places in healthcare. It is not a competition, but rather a collaboration of two distinctly different knowledge bases that contribute to our understanding of how the human body/mind works.