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Accupuncture.. does it really work?

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  • Accupuncture.. does it really work?

    Having loads of needles inserted doesn't sound like fun and the idea that it actually does any good seems far fetched but it appears to be damn popular all over the world so does it really work?

    Perhaps even more important - does it hurt??

  • #2
    To answer both questions in order:

    Yes.

    As for the second question, sometimes. But not always.
    Show me a man who has forgotten words, so that I can have a word with him.

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    • #3
      I have had acupuncture for various reasons, and with various results. Never much pain, much less than getting a shot! More like someone pulling out a single arm-hair (you may also experience some other neat things which I don't really think qualify as pain). I think the effectiveness is partially up to the skill of the practitioner, & the patient's participation in the healing process. I personnally swear by it. I look at it this way: TCM has been around in one form or another for over 4000 years, and the Chinese population accounts for about 1/4th of the world population--something must be working (not to mention another full 1/4 that is asian and tend to use similar healing methods)! I also use TCM principlaes in my massage therapy practice with great results!
      Mike Evans
      Medford, NY

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      • #4
        lol, yes, but the question should be, does that 1/4 of the population live longer or have a higher standard of health than most people in the U.S.?

        to answer firbolg's question, yes, it works for most of the things which acupuncture practitioners claim it does, such as pain. whether it works for blocking and unblocking qi, we have no way of knowing, but it works to alleviate some negative symptoms. it doesn't work to cure cancer and the like. the only reason i say this is that there are acupuncturists who claim that it does, with absolutely no evidence to that effect.

        but again, most of the things which you expect acupuncture to be helpful for, it is.

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        • #5
          Zach, pain is the thing most western clinicians claim acupuncture works for. TCM practitioners claim it works for almost everything. And it does.

          As far as cancer treatments, yes we can do that to, but not just with needles, also heavy use of herbs and diet/lifestyle changes are neccessary for such strong pathogenic proccesses. This ****s up research methodology pretty badly, because we refuse to treat something as serious as cancer with a single variable. Hence what zach said.
          Show me a man who has forgotten words, so that I can have a word with him.

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          • #6
            alright, western acupuncture practitioners, then.

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            • #7
              Yeah, but some of the other things you can treat as a single variable.. and don't believe all this hype about single variables... the single thing we should be worried about is y, not all the xes.
              practice wu de

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              • #8
                i'm not sure what that means, but anyway...

                it wouldn't take all that much imagination to come up with a study that tests an "acupuncture regimen", including herb treatments and lifestyle changes and all that mess, against a conventional cancer treatment program. i'm not sure if this has been done or not, and it probably should.

                assuming it hasn't - the absence of good experimental data about a claim does not lend any credibility to the claim. if it were truly impossible to gather data about the effect of acupuncture on cancer patients, this should not lead anyone to believe that therefore it must work; especially if you're not convinced of the existence of qi energy and other elements of TCM in the first place. it's impossible to know how aliens are affecting our destinies everyday; this is not a reason to believe that they are. especially if one isn't convinced of the existence of aliens in the first place.

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                • #9
                  What I'm saying, is given all the variables.. people will scouf at the idea of doing a study, siting accupucture.. but I would never present it as one of the xes.. put them all in.. and that is the treatment..

                  It would be nice to see.
                  practice wu de

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                  • #10
                    studies involving acupuncture are conducted all the time, and people don't scoff at them. anyone who fancies themselves a scientist ought to admit that acupuncture at least merits further investigation; and most of them do.

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                    • #11
                      part of the problem is that TCM focus more on maintaining health, therefore regular treatments, whether massage, acupuncture, or even regulating your diet to what the body needs, all contribute do avoiding dysfuction (not to mention the fact that it is the individual's job to stay healthy, the practitioner only acts as a guide). The whole "curing" aspect only comes about when someone has gone past that energetic level of dyfunction and allowed the physical to become affected. A more appropriate study may be to track groups of people with higher potentials for cancer (whether for genetic or environmental reasons) and measure how many of those following a tcm / wholistic lifestyle actually develop cancer compared to the control group.
                      Mike Evans
                      Medford, NY

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                      • #12
                        medical science is equally concerned with the prevention of serious illness. for instance, doctors monitor blood pressure and cholestoral as preventative measures against heart problems. people have check-ups with their doctors periodically even if they seem to be in perfect health. it's common knowledge that you shouldn't smoke, drink too much, or eat too much bacon, and that you should get exercise - this is medical science. if we could nail down the causal factors to common cancers (and we have nailed down a few, such as smoking and sun exposure), then we would check for those factors just like blood pressure during check-ups. unfortunately it's not so easy to do that.

                        which is the same reason why the study you mentioned wouldn't be logistically feasible. we know so little about what causes cancer that the data from such a study would be unusable. you could try to compensate by using an incredibly huge test group, but it still wouldn't offer conclusive evidence, and no one wants to invest that kind of money. the only way to get any good data on the subject would be to measure medical and TCM treatments after the cancer has already been detected.

                        so, if the claim is simply that TCM may help prevent cancer down the road, that's fine. i don't have so much of a problem with that, since a TCM sort of lifestyle is healthy anyway. but there are people out there who claim unequivocally that they can cure cancer, and them i have a problem with.
                        Last edited by zachsan; 01-17-2005, 10:20 PM.

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                        • #13
                          I'd have to agree there, Zach. You find the "I can cure anything" people everywhere, not just tcm. You get the guy selling peach pits soaked in arsenic, the telepathic distance healers, etc. While one part of me hopes that one of them IS able to cure cancer, I'd have to stick with trying to stay healthy before-hand, and God forbid I end up with something, I will rely on both allopathic medicine for its proven results, and tcm to help reduce any side effects and to help me maintain what health I do have to survive treatment. Also keep in mind that in TCM, cancer also has many causes, and the same type of cancer may be assessed differently in to different subjects. What a crummy disease...
                          Mike Evans
                          Medford, NY

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                          • #14
                            The term "cure" gets a little skeezy here. I know alot of tcm doctors who've successfully treated cancer patients to the point that they've been in remission for over a decade, thus being "cured" of cancer.

                            Now it might be more accurate for these folk to say, "I have helped patients cure they're cancer." And less accurate to say to a new patient, "I will cure you're cancer." We don't have a 100% success rate with these patients. Especially since americans are usually so far gone by the time they consider tcm as an oncology treatment. Sometimes we help them heal. Sometimes we can just give them enough strength and aid their qi so that they die a bit more easily. There are some acupuncture treatments designed to help a terminal patient die quickly and easily (such as burning moxa on Du 20, the crown of the head, to help the spirit ascend out of the body), as if it needs to be said, these aren't performed much in the U.S.

                            Cure is an interesting word, and quacks of all disciplines, whether they be allopathic specialists or crystal energy healers, tend to flock to that sort semantic.

                            You know what's funny? TCM herbs can do wonders for people with thyroid problems, and in a vast majority of cases, after a course of herbs the thyroid patient's MD needs to lower the dose of thyroid med's and/or discontinue the prescription because it's no longer neccessary. The average response to this by the thyroid patient's MD is, "Oh my god, it's a miracle!"

                            Apparently they'd rather compete with God than admit that tcm is functional.

                            Zach, I love your attitude, but even skeptics have to admit that tcm has been empirically tested in a clinical setting and proven effective (and documented as such) for more than 2000 years.

                            So what if science can't explain how acupuncture works? Science has yet to prove how anesthesia works and yet it's the basis of all allopathic surgical procedures.
                            Show me a man who has forgotten words, so that I can have a word with him.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by daodejing
                              Apparently they'd rather compete with God than admit that tcm is functional.
                              there are people like that, and they're not helping anything. i have heard about TCM's demonstrable effectiveness with thyroid problems, although admittedly i haven't looked into it much. in my mind, if it truly does work, tricks and faulty evidence aside, it ought to be taken advantage of, whether it comes from china or new york.

                              Zach, I love your attitude, but even skeptics have to admit that tcm has been empirically tested in a clinical setting and proven effective (and documented as such) for more than 2000 years.
                              the problem that skeptics have with TCM and most traditional medicines is that they weren't arrived at through scientific testing. someone tries something and it seems to work, and this is passed on. this is an empirical observation but usually not a controlled, scientific one. also, the medicinal traditions tend to be heavily influenced by spirituality, religion and metaphysical beliefs in general, so the empirical gets mixed up with the supernatural almost without distinction. so you might have something that works extremely well for certain problems (thyroid problems, pain), but is also used in areas where it has absolutely no relevance. so how do you tell what's what, 2000 years later? medical science is trying to sift through this massive amount of information and separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. this process obviously is going to step on some toes.

                              as it stands, we have some documentation of how medicine has been approached in the past, but nothing to demonstrate convincingly that the inhabitants of china over the past 2000 years have lived as long or as healthy lives as we are living now. the "oldness" of a theory does not lend it credibility.

                              So what if science can't explain how acupuncture works? Science has yet to prove how anesthesia works and yet it's the basis of all allopathic surgical procedures.
                              absolutely... but Science Guy over here wasn't the one who claimed to know how it worked, TCM Guy was. if something is truly useful, and no one can for the life of them figure out how it works, use it anyway. but when someone comes to you and tells you that they've figured it out, but they don't offer any evidence to back up their explanation (other than the "oldness" argument), don't listen to them.
                              Last edited by zachsan; 01-18-2005, 07:48 PM.

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