Thursday, July 04, 2013

Acupuncture: 3,000 Studies & More Research Not Needed

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In May, Kristin Wiig returned to Saturday Night Live, this time as a host. In one skit, she played an acupuncturist administering treatment to a first time patient. Her therapy began benignly enough: incense was lit, a needle was inserted, then another. But when a third needle was inserted, that's when everything went horrifyingly wrong.

Just to be clear, this scene, resembling the prom bloodbath from Carrie, won't happen in real life. But not much else will either.

Acupuncturists extol the ancient Chinese technique as a treatment of autism, schizophrenia, depression, epilepsy, erectile dysfunction, and a host of other conditions. In reality, scientific examination has only shown acupuncture to be effective in alleviating certain types of chronic pain as well as postoperative nausea and vomiting, and only marginally so.

But in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia, Professor David Colquhoun of the University College London and Dr. Steven Novella of Yale University argue that acupuncture is "little or no more than a theatrical placebo."

"The benefits of acupuncture are likely nonexistent, or at best are too small and too transient to be of any clinical significance," they contend.

(More here.)

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