Acupuncture PDF Print E-mail

Acupuncture, as most people know, is a system of medicine which involves inserting a needle or needles into the skin. It is an ancient method of treatment often thought to be originally Chinese, but in fact similar practises evolved in different cultures thoughout the world, the one difference being that the Chinese documented it. Incorporated within acupuncture is traditional Chinese medicine. This is a concept, being increasingly accepted now in the West, that disease at its fundamental stage is a disease of energetic systems within the body. The Chinese believed that energy which they call 'Chi' flowed in a regular pattern throughout the body, through twelve main meridians and associated with twelve main organs. Illness occurred when there was a restriction to this flow.

It was also thought that pathogens could invade the body and produce illness, such as heat, fire, damp and cold.

Modern acupuncture tends to limit its use to chronic pain. It is now accepted and practised with the NHS in many pain clinics and physiotherapy departments. Research in acupuncture has been performed, but is limited by essential difficulties: it is impossible to do double blind trials in acupuncture (the patient always knows whether they are getting acupuncture or not!). Early attempts in the Seventies to do acupuncture research considered that mock acupuncture (placing needles which were not on so-called acupuncture points) would be an adequate placebo. Unfortunately this did not prove to be the case, in that the effectiveness of this 'sham' acupuncture was fifty percent, whereas the normally accepted placebo effect is thirty percent. This means that if one is comparing sham acupuncture with true acupuncture, a very large number of patients have to be involved in the trial.

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