Originally Posted by jwalker
Not at all. Do you think they know exactly how all the drugs work?
Did you folk not have the TV series a while back which attempted to explain a few of the less well understood alternative medical techniques. Acupuncture was one of the series and dealt with in some depth. I can't remember all the details but the conclusion was that the acupuncture affected the brain in a way that caused it to trigger the output of our natural pain relief chemicals. I cant remember whether our natural healing chemicals were also involved. One of the interesting findings was that rotating the needles had a greater effect.
I had a conversation with a doc after reading about many drug trials where the results of testing a medicine are compared with the effect of a placebo and the placebo generated cures in many of the test group. It is thought that, far from a placebo indicating that a condition is more or less imaginary, the belief in the patient that a drug will help causes the brain to initiate a healing process. I believe the mechanism is little understood.
However, my point is that a patient who benefits from a placebo should not be thought of as in some way being week, a skiver or hypochondriac.
Personally, I think that being able to cure oneself by belief must a good thing.
Don't get me wrong ... I am actually in favour of alternative therapies and would personally always go down the complimentary/alternative route before considering Orthodox (mainstream) medicine.
Depressingly, Orthodox medicine tends to treat the symptons of a problem - and not the actual CAUSE of the problem. Alternative medicine, on the other hand, seeks to resolve the cause of the problem.
In response to the original question posed - does acupuncture work? - this is tricky to prove either way. There are so many variables with alternative medicine that make it difficult to scientifically measure, e.g. variability of acupuncture administration methods, influence of therapeutic relationship etc. Therefore, much research into the usefulness of this technique is qualitative - i.e. based on anecdotes/patient reports.
I still maintain my concerns at a practitioner not being able to explain why, when needles are inserted around the thumb area, tingling is felt in the lower arm. (I would suggest that it is because some of the muscles that control thumb movements run further back up the arm and also because the nerve that controls these thumb muscles and the skin over them, also runs further back up the arm - NOT because it is "the healing taking place"!)
(Anatomy lesson over now