Narrator: This is Science Today. Acupuncture has become one of the most popular forms of complementary medicine in the United States, yet there's still some skepticism in the Western medical community about this ancient Eastern healing treatment. John Longhurst, a cardiologist at the University of California, Irvine, has been studying acupuncture for over a decade and says there are several reasons for this skepticism.
Longhurst: We in medical school, in the past at least, have not been taught about these various treatment modalities. And then secondly, they're not really very familiar with the type of research that has gone in these areas and then finally, the little that they do know about it - much of that literature is not particularly high quality.
Narrator: Longhurst received a two million dollar, federal grant - the first of its kind - to continue studying how acupuncture influences the cardiovascular system.
Longhurst: It's very clear that acupuncture can lower what we call the sympathetic outflow and the sympathetic outflow comes from the brain and causes constriction of the blood vessels and increased activity of the heart.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.