by Dr. Alan Inglis

Gen. George S. Patton once famously said, "If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."

Well, it looks like the United States Air Force is showing the courage to think differently when it comes to treating injured soldiers – and this just might pave the way for greater acceptance of safe, drug-free treatment therapies.

The Air Force announced recently that it is going to train more doctors to use acupuncture to treat injuries in the field. Under a pilot program, 44 doctors from the Air Force, Army and Navy will be trained to offer acupuncture to injured soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I've been telling you for years about the power of acupuncture. Although acupuncture has its skeptics – most of them are scared off by the painless needles, in my opinion – the treatment has been used as part of the Chinese healing tradition for thousands of years. I've known many patients who swear by it for pain relief that is nearly instant and completely free of side effects.

The Air Force already was operating the only acupuncture clinic in the military, after noticing how effective this therapy can be at relieving pain and reducing stress. Now, the program will be expanded to offer training to other military branches, and I can promise you there will be plenty of soldiers thankful for it.

Col. Arnyce Pock, the medical director for the Air Force Medical Corps, said the main benefits of acupuncture are that it's safe, effective and may allow troops to be less dependent on narcotic pain relievers.

What a wonderfully common-sense approach -- from someone on the government payroll, to boot!

Of course, Big Pharma will never stand for it. They're probably deploying a small army of drug sales reps to Col. Pock's office as we speak. Their weapons of choice will be steak dinners, vacations and other expensive freebies.

Hang tough, Col. Pock, and remember something else Gen. Patton said: "It is only by doing things others have not that one can advance."

I predict acupuncture will prove to be a serious advancement for treating injured soldiers. And if you're dealing with more garden-variety pain or stress, you should give this safe, proven treatment a try yourself.