The earliest recorded use of acupuncture dates from 200 BCE. Knowledge of acupuncture spread from China along Arab trade routes towards the West. Up until the early 1970s, however, most Americans had never heard of acupuncture.
Acupuncture gained the attention of the American public after President Nixon's trip to China in 1972. Traveling with Nixon was a New York Times reporter, James Reston, who received acupuncture in China after undergoing an emergency appendectomy. He was so impressed with the procedure's ability to relieve his postoperative pain that he wrote about his experience upon returning to the United States.
Acupuncture was formally recognized as part of mainstream medicine's range of healing options in 1997, when the National Institutes of Health issued a statement documenting its safety and efficacy for a range of health conditions. Although slowly changing, many conventional physicians remain unfamiliar with both the theory and practice of acupuncture.