Acupuncture is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and dates back 2000-4000 years. Surely, a medical practice that has survived a minimum of 2,000 years HAS to have some viability and i believe it is our duty to study it further."
As CDNeely rightly pointed out, the age of something does not mean that it is viable; there are over a dozen different religions that largely say very different things - would you apply the same logic to those?
Additionally, acupuncture has been investigated, however many studies of its alleged efficacy come from China, where we are also seeing numerous reports of massive proliferation of fraudulent studies being used to justify cultural practices.
Further, as a number of posters seem to be under the misapprehension that practices such as accupuncture or 'cupping' are 'accepted by the medical community'; this is rather hyperbolic, as a cursory glance through reputable medical journals do not give any indication of such an acceptance.
People may be conflating the views of a few celebrity doctors who dabble in these areas or even simply pander to an audience more inclined toward 'magical thinking', but who have published no credible studies in reputable journals, particulary ones that weren't retracted for glaring errors.
This high visibility of such quacks as Joseph Mercola and Mike Adams, and bloggers that pickup on their unsubstantiated claims, lead t oan availability cascade, creating the impression in people's minds that it is more widely accepted than in reality.
Even further, people often cite anecdotal evidence as being indicative of the efficacy of something; you may as well make the same arguments about people who see heaven during a near-death experience - its simply unscientific and cannot be reliably reproduced.
It gets even worse when the proponents attempt to use fuzzy explanations for something; Reiki is the best example of this that I can think of at this point in time, but it applies to other alternative practices also.
It may seem that I'm picking on Shen by now, but I do have to pick up one thing they said: "all im saying is that many in the western practices are unifing in the sense that we all agree that we dont know much of whats really going on.".
This is a classically fallacious argument; science works by falsification, not by making the 'appeal to ignorance' ("we don't know, so why not"). Science requires robust peer-reviewed studies in order to demonstrate the efficacy of something before it can be considered to be able to cut the mustard, and where this either hasn't yet been done, or has been done and shown to not work (of which there is plenty of evidence to illustrate), any positive claim made about it is simply unscientific.
"By S. Crawford:
I know and work with a naturopathic doctor, and for you to call his entire profession "non-viable" is an insult to his degree, a degree that he obtained by attending medical school just like any other doctor."
This is not a legitimate argument supporting a claim of efficacy; whether someone trained under a highly respected witchdoctor for a decade and was conferred the mantle of 'being qualified' as a witch-doctor, but that does not support the claims made about the efficacy of the practices or treatments they promote. If it cannot be demonstrated by some scientific means, as explained above, then the claims made by its proponents are unscientific until they have undergone falsification.
Additionally, naturopathic doctors do not undergo the same training as a medical doctor, nor for the same requisite amount of time as a medical student before they are conferred a doctorate in medicine. If they did, they'd be medical doctors with a specialisation in naturopathic remedies.
However many naturopathic doctors themselves insult the medical profession by pushing unscientific claims, without robust scientific studies, and then cry conspiracy or unfair treatment when rebuked for being woo-peddlers when they fail to meet the same standards as medical doctors must meet as required by the peer-review process.
The efficacy, and existence of studies supporting their claims, of these practices are often grossly overstated; patients should be given alternative options for treatment without being mislead about how well they work and whether there is credible research to support them - otherwise we may be teaching 'Flat Earth' as an alternative in geography, and the 'Stork' alternative in reproductive health.
The bottom line is many of these practices have been investigated, and found wanting - as such, there is no scientific basis to continue to promote them until well researched studies that can pass the peer-review process in a reputable journal are forthcoming.