May Catholics use acupuncture?

Q. May Catholics receive acupuncture? What about tai chi?

Bree, via e-mail

A. Here is a reply from Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:

Anyone may have acupuncture if they think it will improve their health. But be careful, and be sure to check with your doctor first. However, Catholics (and, for that matter, all believing Christians) have to be on guard against teachings that might lead them away from Christ. Remember what St. Paul said about that: “For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths” (1 Tm 4:3-4).

As for tai chi, it’s the same thing: Be careful that it does not lead you away from Christ. If the philosophy of tai chi can be adequately defined as “the soft and the pliable will defeat the hard and strong,” I see no reason why that would not be compatible with the Christian teaching of “turning the other cheek.”

Still, remember what St. Paul wrote to the Hebrews: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good to have our hearts strengthened by grace and not by foods, which do not benefit those who live by them” (13:8-9).