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Has acupuncture or cupping been proven to work?

  1. Jan 14, 2009 #1
    Has acupuncture or cupping been proven to work?
     
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  3. Jan 14, 2009 #2

    DavidSnider

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    Re: Acupuncture

    Proven to work at what?

    The effects of acupuncture and cupping are essentially the placebo effect + the added benefit of the mild pain releasing endorphins.
     
  4. Jan 14, 2009 #3
    Re: Acupuncture

    I dunno, things like for instance relieving an illness, cold or fever. You know how in chinese medical clinics you will see those charts on the walls with all these special 'points' on the human body. Apparently the theory goes something like this. If these specials 'points' on your body are blocked, you will become sick. Acupunture is meant to allow energy to flow through these points. Are these just lymph nodes? Does it even matter where they stick the needles?
    This is from a fairly old chinese tradition though. I think it would be really weird if for hundreds, maybe a thousand years they had been practicing healing which had no use at all.
     
  5. Jan 14, 2009 #4

    DavidSnider

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    Re: Acupuncture

    I didn't say it had no use at all. I said it utilizes the placebo effect and releases endorphins. So it does work temporarily, but does not cure illness or pain, but does provide temporary relief.
     
  6. Jan 15, 2009 #5

    f95toli

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    Re: Acupuncture

    There is more the acupuncture than placebo and temporary endorphin release. I agree that many of the claims about the effects of acupuncture are nonsense. However, it is -as far as I know- now reasonably well established that acupuncture can have a long lasting effects on certain types (but not all) of chronic pain; e.g. rheumatic pains, headaches etc.
    Note that acupuncture is still -as far as we know- only a way of activating the body's own natural pain-relief systems; but for some reason the effects seems to last much longer than one would expect if it was just due to endorphin release.
    I read somewhere that a session of acupuncture seems to have the same effect as an intensive workout; both lead to long-lasting changes in the nervous systems (meaning some people could presumably just take up e.g. running instead)
     
  7. Jan 15, 2009 #6

    CEL

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    The theory of humors was born in Egypt or Mesopotamia and adopted by the Greeks around 400 BCE.
    These beliefs were the foundation of mainstream Western medicine well into the 1800s.
    Only after Pasteur did the Western medicine begin to abandon those ideas. Bloodletting was abandoned in the XIX century, but the use of enemas, to eliminate excess bile permeated to the XX century.
    So, a useless healing practice has lasted more then 2000 years.
    Hanneman postulated that you could balance the 4 humors by taking very diluted portions of some substances, instead of bloodletting and enemas. No wonder homeopathy had such a success. Doing nothing is much better than using invasive therapies against a debilitated organism.
     
  8. Jan 15, 2009 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: Acupuncture

    We need a source for definitive claims; ie a published paper, not a skeptics site.
     
  9. Jan 15, 2009 #8

    DavidSnider

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    http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/13638.html

    "Endorphin release, stimulation of the peripheral nervous system, and pain mediation through the effects of other neuropeptides are currently thought to be the most likely conventional explanations for the effects of acupuncture."
     
  10. Jan 15, 2009 #9

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: Acupuncture

    That will work. Thanks. :smile:
     
  11. Jan 15, 2009 #10

    DavidSnider

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    Re: Acupuncture

    Also,
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17893311

    Which shows that sham acupuncture worked nearly as well as real acupuncture and twice as well as conventional therapy. Which indicates to me a placebo effect.
     
  12. Jan 15, 2009 #11

    mgb_phys

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    Re: Acupuncture

    Placebos always struck me as one of medicines great inventions - certainly cheaper, more effective and safer than most drugs.

    Theres a great talk by James Randi (on the authors@google series) where he mentions a meeting with a Chinese doctor who was a properly qualified GP but also had acupuncture charts all over his office.
    He was asked if he believed they worked.
    Oh yes, a lot of the patients who come to me don't really have anything wrong with them and acupuncture makes them feel better. Much better than just giving them anti depressants or antibiotics to make them go away
     
  13. Jan 15, 2009 #12

    Ivan Seeking

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    Again this gets back to the mechanism of the placebo effect, and esp the "strong placebo effect", which as far as I know is a mystery. We have some links in the Credible Anomalies Thread.
    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=58374
     
  14. Jan 16, 2009 #13

    statdad

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    No, it hasn't been proven to be anything but a scam, just as homeopathic "cures" and other, similar things.
    The studies show these things:
    1) There is no long-lasting medical benefit from acupuncture. People claim to feel better after a treatment, but there is no medical change
    2) The claimed "improvement" referred to in my '1' is not any different than that obtained by controls - hence the reference to placebo
    3) The latest studies use both the "real" acupuncture and a "fake" acupuncture - the needles in the latter look real but do not actually penetrate the skin. There is no difference between the subject perceptions between the two
    4) The "benefits" of acupuncture are claimed by patients EVEN WHEN THE NEEDLES, REAL OR FAKE, are applied to purely random sites - locations having nothing to do with the mythical areas the "ancient Chinese cure" claims are vital to health

    It has also come to light that many of the regions practitioners select for their needles were first written down in the mid 1800s - hardly ancient.

    When you read scientific studies of acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal cures, etc., they all read the same: no benefit, no possible explanation for why they would work in the first place, and seemingly no end to the number of people willing to waste money on them.
     
  15. Jan 16, 2009 #14

    mgb_phys

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    To be fair the same thing can be said for most prescribed antidepressants http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7263494.stm
     
  16. Jan 16, 2009 #15

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: Acupuncture

    While I appreciate your point, I do take issue with your reference to herbal cures given that many modern drugs [at one time all drugs] are derived from plants and other natural sources.
     
  17. Jan 16, 2009 #16

    Ivan Seeking

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  18. Jan 16, 2009 #17

    statdad

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    Re: Acupuncture

    You'll note that I did not say that every medicine on the market is as effective as its promotions would imply. The study mentioned examined several (around 50, I believe) previous studies of anti-depressants, and found middling and lower benefit from their continued use.
    It should be pointed out that (and the researchers did so) that this type of study is best suited for developing new hypotheses from old data; studies specifically addressing the issue remain to be done. (I think they will support these initial results, but we must wait for the data).

    About the herbal comment - I stand by it. The fact that tested and proven medications may have some link to plants in no way qualifies them as herbal. Despite the best wishes of our (U.S.) commission on alternative medicine, and other, more fringe, organizations, whenever the herbal "remedies" are put to the test they are found lacking.
     
  19. Jan 16, 2009 #18

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: Acupuncture

    Many modern medicines were once herbal remedies. Your positition is that every herbal remedy not yet recognized as a modern medicine has been shown to be ineffective, or will be, which simply isn't true.

    http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blaspirin.htm

    Scurvy:
    - wiki

    http://mmbr.asm.org/cgi/content/abstract/60/2/301

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10680192

    http://molpharm.aspetjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/60/3/507

    http://jpubhealth.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/21/3/318

    There are many more examples.
     
  20. Jan 16, 2009 #19
    Re: Acupuncture

    i too think there is something to it, for treatment of things like myofascial trigger points.
     
  21. Jan 16, 2009 #20

    statdad

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    Re: Acupuncture

    Evidence that acupuncture has efficacy to do anything except enrich the coffers of those who perform does not exist.

    Again, saying some medicines have ties to plants/herbs is not to say that they were "herbal remedies".

    I would also point out that the jury is out on the validity of some of the "studies" that are repeatedly quoted: they suffer the same lack of quality the "intercessional prayer" studies did. The prayer studies were published in high-quality journals, and have been retracted; I would be amazed if the herbal studies are not as well.
     
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