Description: Fine needles are inserted into the body at various points along the body's energy channels, or meridians.
Effectiveness: The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says it's a "promising" treatment for dental pain and nausea from chemo. Major studies are looking at whether it helps arthritis and back pain. It doesn't appear to help smokers quit, as was once thought.
Description: A system of spinal adjustments or manipulations that are said to correct misalignment of the vertebrae.
Effectiveness: There's a fair amount of evidence that it can relieve acute low-back pain. It's also helpful for neck pain, headaches, and sports injuries.
Description: A practice that induces a state of intensely focused attention, so that the subconscious mind becomes more powerful.
Effectiveness: There's solid evidence that it can reduce pain and anxiety for minimally invasive procedures. It also works for chronic pain, severe burns, and disorders worsened by stress, such as irritable bowel syndrome and eczema. While it helps some people quit smoking, it's not effective for everyone—though it's still worth a try.
Description: Placing magnets on the body to stimulate circulation and increase the release of the body's own pain-relieving chemicals.
Effectiveness: Despite a lack of solid evidence, many athletes swear by it. A study of post-polio patients found that it relieved some pain. After preliminary positive findings, researchers are studying whether electromagnetic stimulation of the brain can relieve depression.
Description: Kneading and rubbing of the muscles and connective tissue.
Effectiveness: Reviews of many studies show that it's beneficial for low-back pain. And anecdotal evidence suggests it helps with the pain caused by many musculoskeletal ailments, such as tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Description: A chemical process in which the man-made amino acid ethylene diamine tetra-acetic acid (EDTA), administered intravenously, is supposed to mop up and remove artery-clogging calcium plaque from blood vessels.
Effectiveness: Some 800,000 Americans a year try it, though there's scant scientific evidence to back it up. But in 2002, the NIH launched a $30 million, five-year study to see if it really works. Meanwhile, with safety and effectiveness still in doubt, it's probably prudent to wait.
Description: Therapies in which a healer passes her hands over a patient to identify energy imbalances and promote healing by restoring balance.
Effectiveness: Preliminary studies suggest that they help bring relaxation to people with dementia and prolong abstinence for substance abusers.