Re: [asa] Consensus science

From: Iain Strachan <>
Date: Fri Aug 28 2009 - 16:26:03 EDT

I think the point about acupuncture is that there is no scientific evidence
for the reasons it is traditionally supposed to work (meridians, chi etc).
 However, I did read somewhere about an interesting study into the effect of
acupuncture on migraine. There were three treatments given to migraine
sufferers, conventional drug therapy, acupuncture, and "sham acupuncture",
where the needles were inserted into the wrong places - ie not where they're
supposed to be placed according to the traditional understanding of it.

There were two interesting results. The first was that the sham acupuncture
worked just as well as the genuine acupuncture. This certainly blows a big
hole in the traditional understanding of meridians and chi. However also
both acupuncture treatments did better than the drug treatments.

From this it would be possible to conclude that acupuncture works but not
for the reason it's supposed to, and that the "traditional" form is wrapped
up in a load of irrelevant mumbo-jumbo. But I suppose you could also
conclude that those who received either of the acupuncture treatments had a
placebo effect that was not present when drugs were taken; possibly due to
the perception of being cared for.

I'm afraid I can't remember the reference to the study.

In general, I'm extremely sceptical about alternative medicine.


On Fri, Aug 28, 2009 at 8:56 PM, Schwarzwald <> wrote:

> Heya Jack,
> A note: I'm not all that enthused with "alternative medical practices"
> myself, whatever they may be. I've heard some interesting anecdotes, but for
> my own part I tend to put at least a bit more stock into mainstream
> therapies.
> That said, I don't think the issue is as clear-cut as you say. I decided to
> check out if there have been any studies indicating acupuncture actually
> works. Sure enough:
> "The study showed that acupuncture increases the binding availability of
> mu-opioid receptors in regions of the brain that process and weaken pain
> signals -- specifically the cingulate, insula, caudate, thalamus and
> amygdala. By directly stimulating these chemicals<>,
> acupuncture can affect the brain's long-term ability to regulate pain, the
> study found."
> Now, I'm not a big fan of science journalism (and I have a healthy
> skepticism of scientists reporting on their research too), so take this with
> a grain of salt - at least if you trust the reports about that helping. But
> at the glance I took, it seems that there's at least recognition that
> acupuncture could honestly be achieving some valid results. (Chiropractors,
> I didn't look into much.) I could care less what chi is or what mystical
> principles acupuncture is based on - if it works, it works. And if it seems
> to work, it warrants investigation. Even use.
> I think Cameron could have picked some better and less controversial
> examples to drive his point home, but I don't think he's completely off-base
> on this.
>> There are so many things wrong with this paragraph it is hard to know
>> where to begin. Chiropractic and acupuncture are considered "alternative"
>> medical practices, for good reasons. First there is no scientific basis to
>> them. I have never seen an electronmicrospy of Chi, nor a Chi gel, or fMRI
>> of Chi states. Western Medicine, for all its flaws, is based on science;
>> anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, etc. Acupuncture is based on mystical
>> principles. Chiropractic is based on a philsophy that almost all modern
>> chiropractic practioners have abandoned. The other difficulty is a lack of
>> clear definitions. When someone does a study of chiropractic techniques,
>> they are rarely rigourous in defining exactly what the manipulation is.
>> There are just about as many manipulations as there are practitioners. I
>> find it surprising that you place higher authority in the general public,
>> "everyone goes to chiropracters", and congressman, than you do on the
>> "consensus" medical opinion. I guess that tells us a lot about you.
>> To unsubscribe, send a message to with
>> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

Non timeo sed caveo
(")_(") This is a bunny copy him into your signature so he can gain world
To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Fri, 28 Aug 2009 21:26:03 +0100

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Fri Aug 28 2009 - 16:26:41 EDT