Which state do you think was the first to legalize the practice of acupuncture? You are probably thinking California, right? Or maybe New York? Did any of you guess Nevada?
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The practice of East Asian medicine in the U.S. is hardly new — herbal clinics in particular have existed since the 1800s — but the twin firewalls of language and culture caused it to remain hidden from the English-speaking public within the country’s Asian communities.
It was Nixon’s famous 1972 visit to China, and the related press in Readers Digest and The New York Times, that brought acupuncture into the popular consciousness. But by doing so, this traditional medicine was also brought into direct conflict with the cultural and political clout of the biomedical paradigm.