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Acupuncture: scientific evidence?

  1. Jun 12, 2015 #1

    nrqed

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    I personally think that acupuncture is nonsense but my spouse thinks it is legitimate. She says that she has "heard" that some studies have shown an effect (without having any specific reference). Being a scientist I am open to being disproven. Does anyone know of serious studies that have shown a real effect? I know it is impossible to conduct a double blind study but I think some studies have been able to at least have a group control where the needles were placed at points where they were not supposed to do anything.

    If several serious studies have shown non placebo effects, I will start being more open. I have the gut feeling that there are none but I need your input.

    Thanks,


    Patrick
     
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  3. Jun 12, 2015 #2

    jedishrfu

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  4. Jun 12, 2015 #3

    DaveC426913

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    Not impossible per se ...:smile: but it could be incredibly gory.

    I'm imagining some sort of setup with a test administrator wearing a blindfold, operating a Gatling Gun-like needle gun that would shoot hundreds of darts a second, some aimed, some not.

    Hm. The biggest problem with this setup would be trying to interview the subject afterwards. You'd need a medium and an Ouija board.
     
  5. Jun 12, 2015 #4

    phinds

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    I think at the very least acupuncture can/does have a very strong placebo effect for people who believe in it, so your wife may find it "legitimate" for her because she obtains real results. Placebos can and do give real results in some cases although they generally tend to be shorter-lived that the same results obtained through a legitimate treatment.
     
  6. Jun 12, 2015 #5

    DaveC426913

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    Aaaaaand there's an XKCD for that.

    http://xkcd.com/1526/
     
  7. Jun 13, 2015 #6

    nrqed

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  8. Jun 13, 2015 #7

    jedishrfu

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    The studies I've read all seem to be inconclusive. Personally though, I went to an acupuncturist after I wrenched my back during a move of some bulky furniture. I couldn't get out of bed the next day and so my wife got me to an acupuncturist who did the electric pulsating needles and after one session it was fine. I'm sure if I took pain meds I'd suffer for a few days before it'd go away. At the time, it was quite painful.
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015
  9. Jun 15, 2015 #8

    jim mcnamara

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    Go to NIH for medical questions:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22965186

    is a meta analysis (overview of multiple papers) of patients treated for pain. They conclude it is a reasonable referral for pain treatment. They do not delve into why it "works", which is often the case in medical literature. For example, honey was long used as an antiseptic and wound dressing, dating from Egyptian times. Nobody knew why it worked, but they used it anyway. Still do, for that matter. Physicians are a pragmatic lot. If it has worked for the treatment of X, in the majority of cases, employ it.

    US insurance companies provide coverage for the acupuncture treatments - in a general way.

    Honey? try this: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25742878
     
  10. Jun 16, 2015 #9
    Acupuncture is not going to grow you a new leg if you're is cut off. It's not going to miraculously heal an open wound without a scar. However, there are numerous studies involving MRI and functional MRI scans before, during and post acupuncture that show there is a definite physical change in blood flow and neural signalling going on. The working hypothesis is that the insertion and manipulation of the needles causes signals that disrupt of the pain centers in the brain. Here's a couple of articles that support that view.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24915066
    http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/775707

    I tried acupuncture on a whim just to see if it had any effect on my plantar facitis. I'm not sure it did anything as it never passed the threshold of my being able to notice any difference.

    I am NOT a Doctor of Medicine. Take any advice from me with a pound of salt. (Or maybe not salt. Hate to see your blood pressure go up.)
     
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