Just one needle to alleviate severe back pain -- or to simply perk you up from fatigue.
That's what acupuncture can do.
But how one, simple needle can have such an effect, is a question that remains without a clear-cut answer.
To better utilize the effects of needles, Korean acupuncturists are using resources of Western medicine.
With neuroimages of Harvard Medical School, a team of Korean and American doctors study what acupuncture can do to the brain to relieve pain.
The effectiveness and safety of acupuncture is also the subject of the research.
[Interview : Lee Sang-hoon, Chief of Acupuncture Research Div.
Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine] "It is now more important to figure out the mechanism, how acupuncture can stimulate brain activities. Then we can actually incorporate the mechanism in curing symptoms, like chronic back pain."
The U.S.-based National Institutes of Health provided 11-million U.S. dollars in funds to support the five-year long project, jointly carried out by the two Korean and American medical institutes.
The fMRI -- or functional magnetic resonance imaging -- will be the main apparatus used to measure and analyze brain activity.
[Interview : Dr. Bruce Rosen, Radiology Professor
Harvard Medical School] "Through acupuncture, many different parts of the brain become active. The sensory cortex, the part of your brain that's involved in normal sensations, in feelings of the world around you, gets activated."
The international medical community is also intrigued by Korea's latest research trend -- linking acupuncture with neuroimaging.
Korea's Oriental Medicine Institute plans to extend the studies to related fields -- such as acupressure, meridian massages and herbal medicine.
Song Ji-sun, Arirang News.