What’s Science’s Take on Acupuncture?

Unsure whether you should go for an acupuncture treatment? Maybe this could help.

A lot of people have sung praises for acupuncture, crediting it for helping them with a wide variety of conditions, from headaches to back aches and more. Of course, there are people who are skeptical about how inserting needles into various body parts can facilitate healing and recovery.

Part of that skepticism can be attributed to key differences between traditional Chinese medicine or TCM and Western medicine. In TCM, illnesses and diseases are seen as a result of the imbalance of chi in the body. Chi refers to the energy which is comprised of opposing forces, yin and yang. As such, it is not uncommon for acupuncturists and other practitioners of TCM to use diagnostic techniques like the examination of the tongue and taking a pulse.

Western medicine, on the other hand, is anchored on what is called a materialist approach. Hence, a disease can be attributed to pathogens and their biological functions. In short, Western medicine relies on what can be seen and observed objectively.

TCM and acupuncture have been practiced in the West for over a hundred years, centered primarily in areas where there is a sizeable number of Chinese immigrants. Even today, when you walk along your local China Town, there are several TCM practitioners who ply their services as well as apothecaries that offer traditional Chinese medicines.

As for acupuncture, the healing art gained prominence in the public eye after a journalist covering President Richard Nixon’s trip to China wrote about how the practice aided in the pain management for his condition. Soon after, interest in acupuncture became widespread.

But what does science say about acupuncture?

On one hand, there is a study financed by the National Institutes of Health conducted in 1997. According to the study, acupuncture has been found effective for many medical conditions, including those related to chemotherapy, dental pain and even nausea caused by pregnancy. The study also pointed out that acupuncture can be deemed as an alternative for the treatment of asthma, headaches, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome and low back pain.

Earlier, Hong Kong neurologist Dr. HL Wen reported back in the seventies that acupuncture can aid opium addicts in their recovery. Today, the practice of using acupuncture to help addicts feel calmer and focused still continues.

Even smokers can benefit from using acupuncture to help kick their bad habit. In one study conducted in Canada in 1997, smokers said that undergoing acupuncture treatment made the taste of cigarettes unappealing.

But despite these studies, there are also other studies that debunk these claims. Some even go further to say that acupuncture is merely a placebo.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.