This is a summary of a great article discussing acupuncture research and why you should trust acupuncture as a safe and effective form of medicine in your life. Western medicine is absolutely essential, but it’s not enough. Chinese medicine and acupuncture fill the gap, addressing your health needs across the spectrum.
Acupuncture has it’s doubters for sure. In the face of overwhelming acupuncture research studies showing it’s benefits, skeptics claim that existing acupuncture research is inconclusive and more is needed.
Universities and government research centers have published tons of acupuncture research data showing that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of many disorders including lower back pain, asthma, migraines, knee pain and essential tremor disorders. Clinical studies from well respected US hospitals and medical centers have also published extensively on the benefits of acupuncture for the treatment of pain, numbness, dizziness, nausea and the side effects of chemotherapy.
A very large and impressive body of acupuncture research is accumulating that shows beyond a doubt that acupuncture has real and significant clinical benefits. Results would be even better if the study designs were not stacked against a positive outcome. Despite these odds, acupuncture shines as an important and affordable therapy.
Placebo investigations (where one group receives “real” acupuncture and another group receives “fake” acupuncture at wrong acupuncture points) often have a very weak treatment protocol in order to maintain the double-blind placebo design. The arrival of Qi (having the patient feel an “achy” sensation at the point of insertion) is usually not present in these trials, nor are standard needle manipulation procedures. This makes the studies tricky, because the most important part of an acupuncture treatment is getting the Qi activated at each point. It’s this activation that makes Chinese medicine work.
Many of these acupuncture research studies involve tapping pre-placed needles mounted within styrofoam blocks so that they barely enter the skin. The proper angle of insertion, needle gauge and length, depth of insertion and retention time are not customized. This completely takes away the power of acupuncture, allowing barely 10% of it’s possible effectiveness for healing.
The drive to develop double-blind placebo controlled trials, however well-intentioned, results in skewing the results and making acupuncture look less effective. Acupuncture is a highly skilled medical procedure performed by licensed acupuncturists who have spent many years developing their needle insertion techniques.
Outcome based medicine is a much better way to measure the effectiveness of acupuncture, and the acupuncture research studies that look at the clinical results of acupuncture shows a clear pattern of cost-effective results. Placebo comparative studies, however desirable to the Western medical system, do not reflect a standard acupuncture procedure in a clinical setting and therefore inherently skew results negatively. In double-blind placebo studies, acupuncture faces an uphill battle to prove itself. Yet, that is precisely what happens. Under the most restrictive circumstances bent on disproving acupuncture as an important form of medicine, acupuncture shines through with significant clinical benefits to patients.
Making a unique, personalized diagnosis and customizing every patient treatment has long been the accepted standard of care within acupuncture. A great master once noted that every area of the body is an acupuncture point, however, we do not list many areas as acupuncture points because we have not yet discovered their clinical benefits. The idea that non-acupuncture points, known as sham points, can be studied against true acupuncture points runs into the problem of comparing unknown areas with known areas. A true measure would be to choose two known areas, one that definitely will not work against one that is traditionally designated as functional in treating a specific ailment. This is a difficult task in that it first must be proven that the sham point is completely ineffective prior to choosing it for the study.
The politics are also very interesting. There is a disturbing trend among acupuncture skeptics. They have a tendency to be employed by medical organizations and educational facilities that receive money for conventional medical procedures. Perhaps they are not paid to skew results, at least not in the intentional sense. Yet, their funding is driven by an industry better served without complementary and integrative medicine. Ultimately, they are surrounded by fellow skeptics that support exclusionary medicine.
The bottom line is that acupuncture works, is spreading in influence, and is here to help you and your loved ones overcome health issues. Utilize acupuncture. Allow it to help you get healthy and get out of pain. Check out the conditions we treat (see our HOME page), watch the videos and read testimonials from our patients.