Acupuncture

Report
Acupuncture
Valid Medical Technique
Or
Lucrative Hoax?
History of Acupuncture
 Practiced
in China for over 4,000
years
 Traditional Chinese medical
technique for unblocking chi
 Acupuncture is the insertion of
needles in specific points on the body
 These insertion points are believed to
correspond with 14 main pathways
within the body called meridians
Origins of Acupuncture Philosophy
 Originates
in Taoist tradition (specifically
meditation)
 Fu His discovered/created idea of yin and
yang by observing a broken line and an
unbroken line
What exactly is Chi?
 Chi
is an energy that, according to ancient
Chinese beliefs, permeates all things
 Chi must be able to flow freely throughout
the body in order for a person to maintain
overall health
 Chi flows along the meridians of the body
Where do yin and yang fit in?
 Acupuncture
needles are inserted in an
attempt to balance the opposing forces of
yin and yang
 Yin and yang are balanced when a person
is healthy and chi is therefore able to flow
freely
 Injury or illness cause yin and yang to
become distressed and unbalanced
 Originally
there were 365 acupuncture
points, but through the years this number
has increased to over 2,000
 Each point is believed to correspond with
a particular illness or injury
What is acupuncture used to treat?







Depression
Arthritis
Kidney problems
Flu
Fatigue
Chronic pain
Migraines

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Paralysis
Hypertension
Tendonitis
Vision problems
Sexual Dysfunction
And many others…
Is there a medical basis to
acupuncture?
 Acupuncture
is not based on modern
medical science
 There is no obvious correlation between
the 14 identified meridians and the actual
location of organs and nerves within the
body
 Some proponents of acupuncture have
attempted to explain its medical function
Possible medical explanations
 Stimulation
of natural painkilling chemicals
such as endorphins
 Needles block the transmission of pain
impulses to the CNS
Research on Acupuncture
 Many
scientific studies on acupuncture are
still in the early stages
 Subjectivity
 One controlled study done by Melzack and
Katz compared electroacupuncture of the
ear to placebo stimulation
 This study found acupuncture to be no
more effective than lightly touching the ear
in relieving chronic pain
More Research
 Three
Dutch epidemiologists analyzed 51
controlled studies of acupuncture in 1991
 Their conclusion: “…the quality of even the
better studies proved to be mediocre…The
efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of
chronic pain remains doubtful.” (Kleijnen,
et al)
Research Continued
A
study published in 2001 exposed the
inconsistency of the diagnosis and
treatment of acupuncture
 Diagnoses as well as the prescribed
treatments varied widely
 Of 28 points selected, only 4 (14%) were
prescribed by 2 or more acupuncturists
Why use acupuncture if it has been
proven ineffective?
 Many
hospitals and doctors that use
acupuncture use it only as complementary
therapy or “last hope” therapy
 Example: DUMC
Why do people persist in using
acupuncture?
 Although
not supported by empirical
evidence, acupuncture is often supported
by anecdotal evidence (which can also
lead to confirmation bias)
 Placebo effect
 Regression fallacy
 Pragmatic fallacy
 Confounding treatments
Why can’t we disprove acupuncture
as a valid healing therapy?
 Acupuncture
theory is flawed at the core
by the fact that it is virtually impossible to
falsify
 Chinese beliefs define chi as being
undetectable by the methods of modern
science
 If it makes people feel better, does it
matter that we can’t explain why?
Lucrative Indeed!
 According
to the American Academy of
Medical Acupuncture, approximately 4,000
physicians in the United States have
received training in acupuncture therapy
 10-15 million Americans spend ~$500
million per year on acupuncture
 1 in 10 Americans have tried acupuncture
But there are risks…
 Bladder
or lung puncture
 Allergic reaction to needles
 Infection from unsterilized needles
 Fainting
 Convulsions
 Nerve Damage
 Putting off treatments that are known to be
effective

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