The cost of healthcare in the United States has skyrocketed for the last several decades. The high cost of health insurance alone exceeds what most of the population can even afford. When combined with the cost of matters not covered by the insurance, the result is often bankruptcy. Furthermore, many of the people who are most in need of healthcare are often deemed uninsurable. Therefore, they rarely get the care that they require.The current economic state of healthcare in America has proven to be a catalyst for the booming alternative health and fitness industry. The growth of this industry over the last decade or two has been staggering. Recent studies have suggested that by 2010, nearly 65% of the American population will be using some form of alternative approach to wellness.Alternative health and fitness regimens are often designed to use the body’s natural chemistry and defenses as a means of achieving good health. Acupuncture for instance, has many physical benefits which have been understood by the Chinese for centuries. In Chinese medicine, acupuncture is used to adjust the flow of qi (pronounced “chee”) which when blocked is the cause of bad health.Over the past few decades Western medicine has become much more accepting of acupuncture as a legitimate medical technique, although for more “scientific” reasons. Medical studies have shown that the procedure uses the body’s nervous system to alter brain chemistry by releasing neurotransmitters and other biochemicals; often leading to improved immune function, blood circulation, and a multitude of other benefits as well.Acupuncture, as with many other alternative health and wellness programs, can have very real, positive effects on the human body. However, care must be taken before beginning any alternative health regimen. Many of these wellness systems are scientifically unproven and can often do more harm than good.Unfortunately, many (definitely not all) proponents of alternative medicine are the quintessential snake-oil salesmen. While there are a considerable amount of unconventional healing methods which have legitimate scientifically proven benefits, there are also numerous frauds on the market. Before beginning a new health regimen, make sure you do your research.