Acupuncture is bunk

Here’s a terrific webcomic exposing the silliness of acupuncture. People are always citing these awful studies at me that they claim support the efficacy of acupuncture, and like the comic says what I see when I read them is that the advocates have gone “anomaly hunting after any statistically relevant result, usually by cherry-picking data or creative interpretation. You’ll never find a conclusive effect with acupuncture studies”.

I’d really like to hook the traditional Chinese medicine freaks with the cannabinoid bozos who’ve lately been doing the same thing: citing weak results to prop up extravagant claims of near miraculous efficacy. A kookfight to the death!

(Also on Sb).

Comments

  1. Eric126 says

    Eery six weeks or so, my wife goes to an acupuncturist to calm down her irrational anxiety. FTR – she’s the first to call it irrational. It’s not so much money, it’s not a drug (no side effects), and it has the intended effect (for whatever reason). She’s found something user friendly that works (by works, I mean has the intended effect), and she’s not so much a skeptic as I, so she’s going with it. I don’t object, because a happy her makes for a happy me.

  2. Rob says

    Despite what studies say, if it works so what? Even the placebo effect is efficient, as any student like me of pharmacology can attest to. And most folk go into acupuncture for relief of some kind, not to validate tests by those who have never received it. Is acupuncture in that regard any worse than allopathic medicine?

  3. HappyHead says

    A kookfight to the death!

    It will be once one of them contracts some sort of potentially fatal illness.

  4. Otrame says

    **sigh

    When you use the phrase “allopathic medicine” you imply that there is any other kind. There isn’t.

    “Do you know what we call alternative medicine that works? We call it medicine.”—Tim Minchin

  5. anonymous says

    One possible use for acupuncture may be simply if you drive a needle into an area of the body it would I presume increase blood flow and the like to repair the (mild) damage. Maybe it’s this reaction that cures some aches and relieves tensions?

    Naturally this has nothing to do with energy lines or anything along those lines…the acupuncturist may have just found the spot that triggers the best healing responses in the body.

  6. Gingerbaker says

    “Despite what studies say, if it works so what? Even the placebo effect is efficient, as any student like me of pharmacology can attest to. And most folk go into acupuncture for relief of some kind, not to validate tests by those who have never received it.”

    So what?

    The placebo effect is a confounding artifact in clinical studies, not a valid effective therapy, which I suppose is what you mean by “efficient”.

    Remember, a placebo is a form of deception, and the placebo effect is how shamans, witch doctors, and charlatans get ‘results’ that ‘work’ for their patients.

    When you defend the placebo effect you are defending quackery, a dishonest practice where patients think they are being treated, but are only being deceived.

    That’s what.

  7. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Accupuncture is nothing but Placebo, the wonder drug in action. If the victim thinks it will help, for something mild and self-limiting, it will work. In fact, a large-scale NIH-CAM study showed that the skin doesn’t even need to be punctured for the “therapy” to work at the same statistical frequency as actually puncturing the skin. Funny how the mind works at times. (I’m at work, or I would look up the reference.)

  8. dianepatyjewicz says

    Did not work for my back pain, or my hip bursitis, but it worked so well for my elbow!
    I am a gardener and could not dig to put a small plant in. Tylenol and Advil did not work.

    Acupuncture did work. After 3 treatments I was back digging in my garden and have been doing so without pain for the last 13 years.

  9. chigau (本当) says

    Is a “student … of pharmacology” in the Pharmacy Department at a university or a user of recreational drugs?

  10. you_monster says

    One possible use for acupuncture may be simply if you drive a needle into an area of the body it would I presume increase blood flow and the like to repair the (mild) damage. Maybe it’s this reaction that cures some aches and relieves tensions?

    Reread PZ’s post. You get “results” without actually sticking the needle into the skin. So the causal mechanism you are suggesting is bunk.

    It’s not so much money, it’s not a drug (no side effects), and it has the intended effect (for whatever reason).

    The reason is the placebo effect. Even though it may not be that much, you could save that money you spend on snake oil, and do the acupuncture routine on your wife yourself using toothpicks. Or, you could just give her a back rub. You can even explain to her how the placebo effect works, since knowing that you are receiving a placebo doesn’t stop the placebo effect from producing subjective “results”.

  11. jimi3001 says

    I don’t know how it works, but my girlfriend’s dad is a vet & he uses it on dogs to apparently beneficial effect! I don’t know how many studies have been done in non-human animals, if any, but I wonder if a placebo effect exists in dogs – anyone know more about it? (For the record, he doesn’t stand for any of the qi crap! Nor would he stab animals without good reason, I should add.)

  12. you_monster says

    dianepatyjewicz,
    Do you believe that faith healing works (better than a placebo)? Assuming not, would someone claiming, “faith healing did work. After 3 treatments I was back digging in my garden and have been doing so without pain for the last 13 years.”, convince you? Or would you want better controlled, repeatable studies?

    Nor would he stab animals without good reason, I should add

    I’m afraid it looks like he would.

  13. you_monster says

    jimi3001,
    Maybe you could show him the study showing that piercing the skin isn’t necessary to produce the placebo effect that acupuncture produces. He could still achieve the “apparent benefit” and he would no longer need to impale helpless animals with needles.

  14. says

    Those of you who are arguing that it doesn’t hurt to practice acupuncture might want to brace yourselves. This is part two of a webcomic series. I think the last panel, with the guy yelling “WHAT’S THE HARM?”, is setting us up for part three.

  15. What a Maroon says

    Well, thanks for all the anecdotes, people. Get enough of them together and you’ve got… a bunch of anecdotes.

    But hey, keep those electrons flowing. I’m sure it’s good for the system.

  16. ChasCPeterson says

    Yes, the placebo effect has been shown to exist in animals.

    This sort of comment, a bare assertion, is useless and pointless. Why in the world should anyone just believe what Brian-on-the-internet sez?

    Here, I refute you with a single link.

  17. Tom S. Fox says

    Please note how nobody is whining about the woo being a man and the scientists being women. Feminists, learn from this!

  18. Stevarious says

    Despite what studies say, if it works so what?

    Well, for one, it doesn’t work. Your brain is tricking itself into thinking that it works. You are, on a very fundamental level, lying to yourself.

    Also, just from wikipedia:

    Adverse events
    Estimates of adverse effects due to acupuncture range from 671[159] to 1,137 per 10,000 treatments. The majority of adverse effects reported are minor, mainly slight haemorrhage (2.9%), haematoma (2.2%), and dizziness (1%).[27] A 2010 systematic review found that acupuncture has been associated with a possible total of up to 86 deaths over the years surveyed, most commonly due to pneumothorax.[160] Some reported adverse effects include 50 cases of bacterial infections, and more than 80 cases of hepatitis B since 1970.[158][161] A 2011 review that included many case reports of injuries stated that “ninety-five cases of severe adverse effects including 5 fatalities” were evident in the literature reviewed. “Pneumothorax and infections were the most frequently reported adverse effects.”[15]
    Other injury
    Other risks of injury include: nerve injury, resulting from the accidental puncture of any nerve, brain damage or stroke, which is possible with very deep needling at the base of the skull,[162] kidney damage from deep needling in the low back. Haemopericardium, or puncture of the protective membrane surrounding the heart, which may occur with needling over a sternal foramen.[163]

    Are you really going to say ‘if it works so what?’ to the people who have suffered strokes, nerve damage, or the families of the bereaved?
    Granted, ALL medical procedures have a risk. But wouldn’t you rather take that risk with someone who isn’t pretending that your body has magical ley lines that can’t be detected in any way but we still somehow know about?

    Did not work for my back pain, or my hip bursitis, but it worked so well for my elbow!

    my girlfriend’s dad is a vet & he uses it on dogs to apparently beneficial effect!

    The plural form of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data’ or ‘evidence’.

    And most folk go into acupuncture for relief of some kind, not to validate tests by those who have never received it.

    Taking a person’s money in return for a medical treatment that does not actually do anything, while telling them that it will, just because they are willing to pay you for it, is not just lying. It’s an example you would come up with to explain why lying is wrong to a small child.

    Alternative “medicine” makes people delay getting real treatment for real problems – which makes these real problems more difficult or impossible to fix. It increases health care costs and increases people dying from serious but curable diseases. It, in short, kills people with the false promise of a magic cure. It sits on the outskirts of real medicine, preying on the desperate and the insecure and the rebellious (because those people will always exist) but lately these forms of quackery have gotten greedy and tried to push their way in as legitimate treatments to get a larger market share – completely uncaring of the fact that people are dying because of it. So when you defend these treatments as ‘well at the worst they are harmless’ know that you are defending people who would watch sick people die instead of receiving a life-saving treatment so that they can get paid.

    I imagine that this is the stuff that the comic artist is going to get into with part 3, so…. spoiler alert? I guess?

  19. you_monster says

    I liked the concluding paragraph in ChasCPeterson’s link,

    Good veterinary care should include a healthy dose of understanding and compassion, and veterinarians should be interested in proven effective care. However, there’s no evidence whatsoever that animals can benefit from, or even experience, placebo effects. Indeed, when doctors claim effectiveness for a treatment beyond the evidence in the belief that they are doing the patient a favor by inducing a “placebo effect” to the animal’s supposed benefit, they are abusing three trusted roles: expert, authority figure, and comforter. Animals deserve better.

    And I want to explain/make my last post more clear. I do think that it would be better if acupuncturists just poked people/animals with toothpicks instead of sticking needles in them, but only negligibly better. The harm that is caused by the pain of being stuck with a thin needle is minor compared to the harm that occurs when you convince people to trust woo.

  20. anonymous says

    “One possible use for acupuncture may be simply if you drive a needle into an area of the body it would I presume increase blood flow and the like to repair the (mild) damage. Maybe it’s this reaction that cures some aches and relieves tensions?

    Reread PZ’s post. You get “results” without actually sticking the needle into the skin. So the causal mechanism you are suggesting is bunk.”

    Oh I’m not discounting the placebo effect, I’m just thinking that in a very particular situation it may have a very limited healing effect. Of course as someone else pointed out a massage would increase blood flow as well, but thought maybe the damage repair would trigger something else in the body. Don’t know enough about biology to go further on this though…just a thought.

  21. DLC says

    Adverse effects of acupuncture (or any woo intervention or quackery, for that matter) : Patient does not seek actual treatment, relying instead on placebo effect. Patient’s condition either doe not improve or actually worsens. Hey, I know, how about a test of Acupuncture on patients with MRSA ? How about it, woo fans ? we’ll inoculate half of you with MRSA, and see if acupuncture cures it. Oh wait, there’s that pesky Ethics thing.
    Oh well.

  22. happiestsadist says

    My otherwise-rational parents have been after me to get acupuncture for my more or less constant ongoing pain issues. They refuse to give it up, even when I send info about why it’s nonsense and tell them that seeing as I already know it’s nonsense, I won’t even get the placebo effect.

    And now we have ridiculous people flooding the thread with their anecdata about how it totally worked for them, and they’re clearly too smart for the placebo effect to work yadda yadda.

  23. you_monster says

    I tried acupuncture with needles dipped in hemp oil, it made a piano-playing monkey fly out of my butt. True story.

  24. Anteprepro says

    Please note how nobody is whining about the woo being a man and the scientists being women. Feminists, learn from this!

    Please note how, in the combination of comics, the man isn’t portrayed as deluded or irrational (more like misinformed). Also note that “man is unscientific and irrational and women aren’t” is the complete opposite of a traditional stereotype. Morons, learn from this!

  25. happiestsadist says

    Anteprepro: Now you’re taking away their false equivalencies and making them think of context? You’re such a meanie.

  26. you_monster says

    happiestsadist,

    So would that be a success or no?

    Are you kidding me? Clearly a success. I’ve got plenty more testimonials where that came from too. I bet Ichthyic could provide an anecdote or two as well, he also has experience with anally extruded primates.

  27. Anteprepro says

    happiestsadist:

    Now you’re taking away their false equivalencies and making them think of context? You’re such a meanie.

    Yeah, I kinda suck.

    Also, back on topic: This comic is great, and the comic in between part 1 and 2 is fucking hilarious! “That’s messed up, Jesus” indeed.

  28. happiestsadist says

    The comic is pretty much completely awesome. *adds to facebook, because I don’t get into enough arguments*

  29. anbheal says

    After a neck injury twenty years ago I tried a chiropractor, since my insurance covered it. My first appointment included a requirement to sit through a 20-minute movie about how chiropractic cures everything from hangnail to indigestion. It was insulting. The chiropractor insisted (as did her staff) on being called Dr. Amy. If I ever called her Dr. Jennings, or Amy, I was immediately corrected. As with meteorologists, the Doctor muct come before a first name. Professionalism, writ large.

    After five or six sessions over two weeks my neck felt better. The time before, consulting an orthopaed instead, after two weeks of an anti-inflammatory and a hot compress, my neck felt better. It’s almost as if orthopaedic pains often have a limited shelf-life, and start to feel better over time. Weird, that.

    And here’s the weirdest part. I had a good-looking buxom young woman crawl all over me for ten minutes, then put me in a vibrating Homer Simpson relax-o-chair for another ten. And at the end of the session, I was more relaxed! And she got to charge my insurance for both subluxation and relax-o-chairization procedures. A win-win.

    I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that there are about 4000 little shops in Bangkok where the results would exactly mirror my chiropractor’s.

    My next orthopaed suggested combining bourbon with the anti-inflammatory and hot compress. He didn’t get to charge the insurance company for that, but I sure was relaxed.

    But hey, it’s only anecdotal. Still, had Dr. Amy offered a happy ending, just think how well my neck would have responded.

  30. jimi3001 says

    Ta for the info, I’ll pass it on!

    you_monster:
    “I’m afraid it looks like he would” – no really, he wouldn’t. The basis of his use of acupuncture was that there is apparently no placebo effect in animals. I don’t know if he knows about the reproduced effects of non-insertion (to same efficacy as needle insertion) in humans, but I will tell him & point him to the link that ChasCPeterson provided which references a systematic review (which I assume he hasn’t seen as it doesn’t show outright efficacy of the use of it in animals).

    Stevarious:
    I wasn’t suggesting that it was. I was curious about how it could work in animals given the lack of placebo effect & used the anecdote as a motivation for that rather than coming in & asking what would happen if we stuck needles in animals – that might sound like the product of a slightly callous mind!

  31. Loqi says

    I think I need the facepalm stick after reading some of the “I don’t know how it works, but it does” comments.

    Anyone else want it when I get done?

  32. says

    Regarding whether the placebo effect works in animals, I’d ask how can you tell if the animal is feeling less pain or not?

    Well, by having a human observe it. So I would guess that the human, knowing of the “treatment”, reported observing less pain or discomfort in their pet. But that’s exactly how the placebo manifests itself. So, it’s basically a secondary placebo effect.

  33. happiestsadist says

    Loqi: Gimme that thing when you get through. Because man, if I’m not putting up well with it from Mom and Dad, I sure as fuck as sick to my back teeth of it from strangers who seem to think they’re too smart for placebos, therefore magic and that anecdote equal data if you yell them enough.

  34. Eric RoM says

    Why all the hating on placebos? If all you’re trying to do is relieve pain, and pain IS relieved, how is that not ‘working’?

    Anger and smugness are PZ’s placebos.

  35. you_monster says

    Anger and smugness are PZ’s placebos.

    This sentence isn’t even fucking coherent. Try again.

    Why all the hating on placebos?

    You will have to wait for the 3rd comic. Or you could read Stevarious’ spoiler at #20.

  36. calliopejane says

    Perhaps the folks here can help me with something that has been nagging at me regarding acupuncture. I totally go with the evidence, and believe that people who are helped by acupuncture processes are basically just reporting a placebo effect, or improvement is due to some other lifestyle change made as part of this “alternative” approach to health (e.g., healthier eating or exercise). Seems clear: acupuncture is bunk.

    BUT NOW THIS: my friends have a dog, a yellow lab mix who had hip displaysia before age 1, has one artificial hip & the other will likely have to be replaced at some point (but since projected functionality on the artificial hips is only something like 8 years, they’re trying to wait a bit). Poor thing had all sorts of walking problems, back end would just fall out from under him, seemed to often be in pain. Then my friends started getting him acupuncture treatments once a week. After a few of those, he started being able to walk well, and even RUN(!!).

    So, my question is: WTF IS GOING ON HERE??? I can’t reconcile this with my conviction that acupuncture is just woo. He’s a DOG, and has no understanding of why needles are being stuck in him, so how can this be a placebo effect? No other changes in his care were introduced at that time.

    It’s really been bugging me trying to figure this out. Error! Does not Compute! Can anyone explain this to me?

  37. Loqi says

    Happiestsadist: I was about to pass it off to you earlier, but then Eric RoM barfed on the thread and I had to use it again. It’s all yours now, though.

  38. bird bird bird. bird is the word. says

    My sister suggested I get acupuncture to cure infertility. She said it worked for her friend. I said acupuncture doesn’t work and she responded with “well, it worked for my friend.” I asked how. She offered to put me in touch with her friend’s acupuncturist. I probably should have made the call for entertainment purposes. “We must get The CHI to flow through your fallopian tubes!”

  39. you_monster says

    My sister suggested I get acupuncture to cure infertility. She said it worked for her friend. I said acupuncture doesn’t work and she responded with “well, it worked for my friend.” I asked how.

    I hate when the question of how it works gets forgotten by those arguing for its efficacy. It’s an important question. You can’t just ignore it.

  40. Stu says

    No other changes in his care were introduced at that time.

    Not necessarily true. If the owners have an expectation of the acupuncture working, that will change their behavior and their treatment of the pet.

  41. Anteprepro says

    If all you’re trying to do is relieve pain, and pain IS relieved, how is that not ‘working’?

    If your “medicine” relieves pain just as much as a sugar pill, being randomly poked with tooth picks, or *snicker* prayer, how is that “working”? And why would you pay money for it?

  42. scottcalvert says

    Eric126 and others taking the “what can it hurt” angle: there’s a simple answer to that. It can cause infection. Proper sterile technique is not real common among accu-something vendors. Poke through the skin enough times and something you really wanted on the outside will find its way in and ruin your day or worse.

  43. Glidwrith says

    The mere idea of sticking needles deep into ones’ body anywhere is enough to give me the creeps. I also can’t say I believe all that much in acupuncture; but here is what’s really weird: anyone ever hear about sea-bands? They are supposed to treat nausea (either from sea-sickness or morning sickness). They’re $2-$10 soft cloth elastic bands that go over your wrists with a plastic button on the inside. The button is positioned between the tendons on the inside of the wrist. You push on the button to get relief. Yes, it sounds extremely silly and I felt stupid even doing it, but since I was pregnant I didn’t dare take anti-nausea medicines and figured there was no way pushing a plastic button on my wrist could possibly harm me or the baby.

    Weirdness ensued – I was no longer nauseous. Yep, possibly a placebo effect even though I was skeptical of it, but it did work. So in the criteria of the con-man selling snake-oil: 1) no harm can be caused by this, 2) cheap, cheap, cheap, 3) readily available at any drug store, 4) it worked. This experience makes me wonder if there is a grain of truth buried somewhere in the acupuncture woo. And to top it off, here are a series of peer-reviewed studies on Pub-Med:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15389150
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11277163
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2027146
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11395836

    The conclusions are that something is there for this particular method (note: no other woo is endorsed by me) and that there should be futher study.

  44. Rip Steakface says

    @calliopejean

    It’s possible that the dog coincidentally began repairing the damage of the displaysia and such around the time that the acupuncture began.

  45. tbell says

    re: dog acupuncture. It’s also possible that there are about 1000 other pet owners who try acupuncture and find it ineffective and subsequently fail to tell anyone about it. And even if they do tell anyone about the null result, no one then goes on to relate the anecdote to the rest of us, because it’s A. kind of a boring story, and B. a bummer, because the dog didn’t get better.

    not being snarky btw., it’s just that it’s sometime hard to appreciate how easy it is for confirmatory evidence to get passed on and how much potentially disconfirming evidence gets unnoticed, actively ignored, or just plain forgotten about.

  46. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Why all the hating on placebos? If all you’re trying to do is relieve pain, and pain IS relieved, how is that not ‘working’?

    Anger and smugness are PZ’s placebos.

    The pain is relieved by the expectation of relief, not the treatment per se. Which is what makes it quackery. You are the smug one who thinks they know more than people in the field. Think about that…

  47. calliopejane says

    With the dog, I guess rip @48 is probably right, and some natural healing just happened to start taking place at that time.

    Stu @44, I had considered owner expectations but that’s just not a satisfactory explanation for me. It would be plausible if this were about something more subjective (like energy level), but owner expectations do not make a dog who can barely walk suddenly able to run, that seems like pretty magical thinking to expect that level of wishing-makes-it-so. Also, they had expected improvements at other times that failed to materialize, and certainly expected better results than they got from the hip-replacement surgery.

    So I believe I’ll go with the explanation (for resolving my own cognitive dissonance) that for whatever reason, it took him something like a year longer than usual to really integrate the new hip and start using it effectively, which just happened to be at the same time the acupuncture was started. An uncommon recovery path, but possible. I think I was just getting hung up on the idea of the placebo effect being the cause of acupuncture efficacy in humans and trying to figure out how that could apply to a dog.

  48. bird bird bird. bird is the word. says

    #43
    Exactly. The comic makes the point that the proof of concept for acupuncture hasn’t been validated. If no one explain how acupuncture works in real anatomical terms how is any reasonable person supposed to subscribe to it?

  49. X X says

    From my facebook feed:

    FRIEND: Man, when I was using prescription meds for migraines I was missing work weekly and relying on FMLA to not get fired. And I was suffering with more migraines than my insurance would allow me pills.

    Acupuncture changed that part of my life. I’m off prescriptions now for 8 months, off FMLA, and only experience occasional headaches (rarely a full-blown migraine–not even once a month). I get to enjoy vacation days now (like today) instead of crying in bed like a baby.

    This is a case where I really don’t care if science disagrees–I prefer the sanity of a life with fewer migraines.

    ME: I’m so happy that you’re no longer having migraines and your pain has been reduced. Whatever the reason, that’s a cause for celebration! Of course, there is no real way to know why you were fortunate in this regard from a scientific standpoint. In the case of migraines and a variety of other pain-related health issues (for example back pain), many if not all of the medications that are routinely prescribed have little to no evidence of efficacy, and if we’re comparing treatment options I can see a case for choosing a competent and safe acupuncture regimen over a serious medication that has serious side-effects (though it is important to realize that acupuncture is not without its side-effects either –http://iospress.metapress.com/content/5178037868k43029/?p=02b581d7e6d748cbad9cd835682fb230&pi=1 — one is, after all, being stuck with needles of a provenance that only the acupuncturist can vouchsafe).

    I would not wish any pain on you or any other person. For me, the questions surrounding acupuncture (and, indeed, all forms of “alternative medicine”) come down to two: 1) where there is no evidence that a treatment works better than a placebo and there are documented negative side-effects, should the treatment be covered as a part of health insurance (this would also include questionable drug-regimens as well as acupuncture)?, and 2) should we be spending resources trying to discover whether a treatment works when there isn’t a plausible mechanism being proposed as to how it works?

    I believe that the medical research community needs to do better studies into pain management that aren’t so tied to the take-a-pill/do-a-procedure/see-a-specialist kind of medicine that we tend to take for granted is the only medicine that works. For example, I have a friend who has migraines and her doctor prescribed the following treatment course: 1) change to a healthier diet, 2) avoid alcohol, 3) stick to a consistent exercise regimen. Is there evidence in the literature that this treatment works any better than drugs or acupuncture? No. Is there any mechanistic reason to think this works? No. But the positive benefits to such lifestyle changes are better than the either wholly neutral or negative side-effects associated with drugs or acupuncture. My friend did indeed get some relief from her migraines. Was this caused by the lifestyle change? I cannot say, and, in fact, I’m skeptical. But this sort of treatment associated with the same implied placebo effect that seems to be occurring with acupuncture and some drugs is far more ethical in my book than referring a suffering patient to acupuncture or drugs-of-questionable-utility considering that there is no cure for this horrible pain and, in fact, there are still no convincing models for why this pain is occurring in the first place.

    Thoughts?

  50. Cal says

    I’ve always been of two minds about the physical process involved in acupuncture. On the one hand, it was the only treatment my grandmother ever found that relieved the intense pain of her facial neuralgia, but I suspect that to have been an unexpected placebo effect. On the other, I have experienced a positive effect from the use of just the needles themselves, applied outside of the context of traditional Chinese medicine – my sports physio used to use them to apply more specifically targeted pressure to badly seized muscles in my back than could be achieved by hands alone, and it did help to relieve the pressure points. Since I was vaguely terrified by the whole process, I don’t think that can automatically be ascribed to the placebo effect, though?

    So I guess, I’m prepared to admit the possibility that the actual physical process may, under certain circumstances and when used in certain ways, have some positive physical effects on the body…but the ‘chi’ stuff is just bunk.

  51. fuhcough says

    After having played soccer for 13 plus years with no significant injuries, I broke my ankle pretty badly in a game – required ORIF, so pretty bad. Not interesting in and of itself, however, about a week and a half prior to this I had begun drinking green tea. Coincidence? Gigantic coincidence, or did the green tea weaken my bones? If there was a thread somewhere making this claim, I could be one of those people posting anecdotal “evidence”.
    The point is, people are too quick to see a causal effect in cases like this. “It didn’t work on my bursitis but did work on my elbow”. Given that you didn’t state what the specific problem was with your elbow, I suspect you didn’t see a real doctor, so we (and you) can’t know your ailment wasn’t some transitory inflammation that would have gone away on it’s own after however long 3 treatments takes.
    “Then my friends started getting him acupuncture treatments once a week. After a few of those, he started being able to walk well, and even RUN(!!). “”No other changes in his care were introduced at that time. ” I don’t buy it. NO other changes? Really? Once a week, and after a few (weeks) he could walk better, but they hadn’t been walking him more, or less? Or changed his diet? A practitioner of something as “holistic” as acupuncture for dogs REALLY didn’t give them a whole friggin’ list of things to change?!?

  52. notfromvenus says

    I know a number of people that’ve done acupuncture. Mostly, they do/did it because they can’t afford orthopedic surgery.

    If it comes down to paying $20,000 for knee surgery or $50 to have some guy poke you with needles…. a lot of people will try the guy with the needles first, even if they know it’s probably woo.

  53. patrickelliott says

    “One possible use for acupuncture may be simply if you drive a needle into an area of the body it would I presume increase blood flow and the like to repair the (mild) damage. Maybe it’s this reaction that cures some aches and relieves tensions?

    Reread PZ’s post. You get “results” without actually sticking the needle into the skin. So the causal mechanism you are suggesting is bunk.”

    Oh I’m not discounting the placebo effect, I’m just thinking that in a very particular situation it may have a very limited healing effect. Of course as someone else pointed out a massage would increase blood flow as well, but thought maybe the damage repair would trigger something else in the body. Don’t know enough about biology to go further on this though…just a thought.

    Second problem. It also doesn’t matter where you put the damn needles, you can pick any random place you want, including stuffing the things up someone’s bung hole, and, as long as you are convincing enough that you, “know what you are doing”, it will work anyway. So.. How exactly is that, “finding the best place to apply it.”, exactly?

  54. Ichthyic says

    If it comes down to paying $20,000 for knee surgery or $50 to have some guy poke you with needles…. a lot of people will try the guy with the needles first, even if they know it’s probably woo.

    pennywise and pound foolish.

    if they know it’s woo, I’m sure if they were rational they could think of a better way to spend that 50 bucks.

    like maybe, as a payment on the 20K for the surgery that would actually work.

    or maybe just for some good drugs.

  55. dropkickpa says

    re:migraines and acupuncture –

    This is a funny one, because MANY migraine sufferers have Medication Overuse Headache (MOH), essentially the overuse of painkillers, be they NSAIDS, opiates, etc, cause rebound headaches. Discontinuation of painkillers is the cure for these. There’s a period that really sucks just after cessation, but within 2-4 weeks, headache frequency drops dramatically.

    Acupuncturists pretty much always have headache/migraine sufferers stop painkiller medications, which has the handy effect of decreased frequency of headaches. It magical! Headaches went away within 3 weeks of starting acupuncture and completely off meds!! Yippee!

    It’s sad, really, because a LOT of people are fooled by this one.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17953286
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/2k35l62038318qv4/
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17592444

  56. jameschong says

    E² Acupuncture Science Since 2600BC can easily cure any skeletal muscle pain
    In 2001, published Hendrik Sch..’s scientific scandal can only fool you a year or 2. But not to the scientific facts and so as Acupuncture. It can’t fool you for 4610+ years long.

    Aren’t you seeking and unlock this 4,610+ years old hidden scientific facts of TCM Acupuncture practice.

    Now you can get the scientific facts from google.com/site/jameschongpainfree
    If you’re remain unconvinced, this has shown that you are know nothing about science but pretend to be one
    You’re welcome to prove E² acupuncture science is a bunk or a science challenge.
    or taking part in http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/11/acupuncture_is_bunk.php.
    perhaps silent make you a better scien,…..
    Or ended like The Mad Man vs E2 Acupuncture science over http://www.topix.com/forum/life/veterans/TFDRMKGFDQM4H0C9J

    Cupping, Moxibustion, Light Devices and Non Needle therapies, claim they have the same acupuncture therapeutic effects.
    These are misleading, scientific fraudulent and misconduct.

    Acupuncture metal needle can conduct electricity and discharge electrons but they can’t and unmatched science facts.
    Another word, Light Devices, they’re claimed the EMR beam can conduct electricity and discharge electrons, what is EMR stand for unconvincing natural phenomenon science.

    Any low energy EMR (long wavelength), can never split any molecule into individual atom. Our body is not leaves and
    no tissue oxygenation taken place when expose to light. Else we will not need any plants or trees to help the
    green house effects also we do not need to pay carbon tax.

    Of cause you’re entitle your opinions.
    For many perhaps thousand years of criticism such bad, bunk, dead, voodoo magic and snake oil sales man acupuncture science. Especially from those top most profession.

    Don’t you think TCM Acupuncture deserve an online apology.

    James Chong

  57. John Morales says

    James Chong:

    Don’t you think TCM Acupuncture deserve an online apology.

    No need to persuade me, I already don’t think that.

  58. jameschong says

    Another evidence since E² acupuncture science online.
    S/He shop around and now Pain free, ..

    from http://www.examiner.com/holistic-science-spirit-in-national/new-scientific-breakthrough-proves-why-acupuncture-works?fb_comment=16922196

    Anonymous
    1 week ago

    I never thought acupunture worked, being a skeptic and never seeing any evidence, I had it once before and it didnt work for the condition I had. I recently reluctantly tried it on the urging of a friend at a free birthing clinic in a developing country. I found the acupuncturists to be very knowlegable about my condition which is Hashimotos. And they stuck the needles in deep this time, unlike the last time I had it. That was two months ago. I had been severedly fatigued everyday at the same time for a year without missing a day, and 24-48 hours after the treatment, I was not experiencing any fatigue. Its been 2 months without any fatigue, I would say it was either a miracle or it really does work. The quality may vary with practitioners I have guessed, make sure the needles go deep, you should feel a pressure feeling and a paralysis feeling. You will be unable to move for the duration of the treatment. Even while getting the treatment I was thinking this will not work!! And they moxibusted on the needles to, which gave off a lot of smoke, and I was even more skeptical, hating the idea of smoke for health. But by geez it worked, I still cant beleive it. There is so much we dont know, so much knowlege has been lost, just think of all the wars that are going on now, multiply that times 5,000 years and think of of all the things that were destroyed in the chaos. Hell, maybe god even exists….

    For latest scientific facts update, please check/click on my site
    https://sites.google.com/site/jameschongpainfree/
    https://sites.google.com/site/jameschongpainfree/
    or google it with JamesChongPainFree google sites

    James Chong

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