Acupuncture, your views

I’m looking into getting this done for a 5-10 session course as I’ve heard friends have success with other ailments and was curious if anyone else has has any relief through acupuncture? I’ve had reflexology done once before on my feet and the lady said I had a “blocked head” - I was so dizzy afterwards I never went back. I didn’t expect this! A lot of people say that’s normal due to a release of toxins, but crickey I felt like I’d been hit by the spinning stick pretty severely. Needless to say, I’ll be looking for a therapist within walking distance from my home :slight_smile:

for me, I tried everything, including acupuncture…nada…nothing worked until I started medications.
I know others have had luck with acupuncture for other ailments, but I haven’t heard of anyone who got better from MAV…

made no difference to me, other than it was relaxing at the time. Meds, exercise and lifestyle mods the only things that have worked for me

It’s an elaborate placebo at best. At worst you’re getting holes punctured into your skin and throwing money away for nothing.

I don’t think it’s a placebo, because I know that for pain, acupuncture really works. Also for asthma attacks. It’s hard to judge for other things, because you also have the skill of the practitioner involved to take into account. But I was a true believer when I went to the same acupuncturist after my big bang of vertigo, and I felt worse after the session, so there was no placebo for me. I could give it another go, because to be honest, I was telling him I had an ear infection diagnosis and he may have operated off of that.

But what does the skill of the person have to do with it? Controlled studies show it makes no difference where the pins are placed or even if someone twirls toothpicks on your skin. There are no “meridians”. If you feel good for a day after it then fine, but you’d probably feel even better if you got a relaxing massage (and save $$).

I have two reactions to your comments, Scott.

First, from a rational perspective, if it makes no difference where they stab or poke–to use two pejorative terms for the procedures–it seems this would disprove the locational specificity, hence the explanatory model, but not disprove the efficacy.

Even Bluesky does not fully discount its efficacy as a placebo when not “testing” or at any rate misleading the acupuncturist.

And Waspcharmer seemed to find reflexology pretty powerful–as a nocebo, perhaps?

Admittedly reflexology has a bit in common with hand or foot massage as well, although in my training I was taught it follows the same model as acupuncture.

Then I have a second type of reaction. As I may have mentioned elsewhere, I’ve had all sorts of massage/bodywork training (although I practice none professionally, not even swedish massage, due to the risk of my fogging out). These included acupressure and reflexology. Aside from being taught you’ll find this here and that there, there are places that feel right to work, or that feel as though they need pressure, and ones that don’t on a particular body at a particular time, just as there are spasmed muscles flaccid ones, and well-toned when exploring from a musculoskeletal perspective, and considerable differences between pressure on a skull suture and 2 cm off from it, when working that approach.

All this suggests that the research comparing acupuncture on meridians and randomly or haphazadly placed may not capture what a sensitive practitioner would, by which I mean one who is aware of the meridian model but is guided by what he or she senses here and now. We’ve got to falsify the right thing to prove that there’s nothing working but placebo.

Hi David,

There have been some very well designed studies now where sham acupuncture was used. They used “real” acupuncture where needles were placed on “meridians” according to the practitioner, needles placed willy-nilly and in a third arm tooth picks were also spun on spots at random. In all cases the person receiving the treatment thought it was all the real deal. The result? No difference no matter what method was used. Take from that what you will.

"The only reasonable scientific conclusion to draw from this is that acupuncture does not work … that any perceived benefit from acupucture is due to placebo or nonspecific effects.

The acupuncture industry needs to be called on their continued promotion of a medical modality which has already been shown to be ineffective by clinical research. The mainstream media needs to be criticized for uncritically accepting the propaganda of the acupuncture industry."

Hi all,
Just wanted to throw my experience in here. Earlier this year is used to have acupuncture every week. The lady who did it was wonderful, she firmly believed she could help me. She never said that she would cure me though. I spent £50 per hour week after week hoping to feel better. Whilst I found the treatment very relaxing it did nothing for my migraines, I must have wasted £1000 on it. I wish I’d known before. Now, I have the odd massage which is just as relaxing. Just a thought x

Scott, as someone with scientific training, you know as well as I that the closer you get to the original study, the more accurate the report, the less distorted through editorial interpretation.

Here’s the concluding graf of the actual abstract from ArcIntMed:

Although acupuncture was found effective for chronic low back pain, tailoring needling sites to each patient and penetration of the skin appear to be unimportant in eliciting therapeutic benefits. These findings raise questions about acupuncture’s purported mechanisms of action. It remains unclear whether acupuncture or our simulated method of acupuncture provide physiologically important stimulation or represent placebo or nonspecific effects.

1)Acupuncture, sham acupuncture etc did work, reducing not symptoms but dysfunction at p<=.o2
2) They consider their research to have raised questions re the meridian model (I thought they had demonstrated that it lacked benefit, but apparEntly they were not so certain) AND conclude that they don’t know whether these effects were nonspecific as to the particular poke or whether they were placebo, but they were there.

Sorry, Scott, but doesn’t your pet board fail to accurately reflect what the study authors report in the abstract they submitted?**

I am genuinely perplexed as to why people are so interested in acupuncture and so determined to prove that it works.

The Chinese told us there are meridians, and there aren’t. That much is not in dispute, so the whole purported basis for the system is wrong. So why do we keep insisting it might work and then trying to work backwards to come up with some plausible hypothesis for an (at best shaky) suggestion of efficacy? If acupuncture was routinely getting miraculous results in a range of illnesses I’d understand the interest but really, the most we see is the equivalent of placebo-type effects for subjectively felt things like pain.

I don’t get it.

— Begin quote from "Victoria"

I don’t get it.

— End quote

I think people like to believe or hope that there is still some magic treatments out there.

I know of not one person who has managed a chronic migraine condition with acupuncture nor is that surprising given the evidence and premise of the whole thing (meridians that don’t exist). It’s one of the bus stops we all end up hitting on the way to real and useful treatments.

Edit: David, if you read the analysis on SBM, the reviewers make a very good point through analogy. Imagine, they say, if a pharmaceutical company marketed a pain killer and said that “their drug is effective for pain, but that their research shows that a placebo of their drug is also effective. Therefore more research is needed to determine how their drug works. Would you buy it?”

I don’t understand why this isn’t obvious.


Scott, you’re right, that is obvious.

The big question to me is, are there equally benign alternatives that will work for the people who get benefit from acupuncture?

FWIW, I myself wouldn’t bother with it unless you paid me. But wait, on further thought, if I was hurting and none of the other modalities was working, including relatively safe drugs, sure, I’d give it a whiz, right after laying on of hands.

— Begin quote from "scott"

If you feel good for a day after it then fine, but you’d probably feel even better if you got a relaxing massage (and save $$).

— End quote

Where I live, the acupuncturist is cheaper than the massage therapist, and the acupunturist has much more knowledge of anatomy. Both are cash pay. Anyhow, it’s doesn’t work for my vertigo.

I’m all for massage, as long as it’s not putting itself out there as some sort of miracle cure-all
unlike acupuncturist sign up the road which includes treatment of ‘organ malfunction’ as well as migraine and various others
I spoke to her about my neck pain and she said maybe it was my kidneys
i think if i was having kidney failure being stuck with needles would not save me

— Begin quote from "david shapiro"

The big question to me is, are there equally benign alternatives that will work for the people who get benefit from acupuncture?

— End quote

Is it benign though? I mean, most of the time it probably is, but it’s not without risks:

— Begin quote from "Rebzi"

i think if i was having kidney failure being stuck with needles would not save me

— End quote

… and you’d be peeing green. Hard to believe a catastrophic kidney meltdown would somehow show itself as neck pain and nothing more. :roll:

I guess the “meridians” are like the solar system, or nervous system, or borders – they don’t necessarily exist but are constructs to describe something. I only tried it once for this dizziness, but you’re making me think of giving it another shot! It was much cheaper than any doctor or any of the medications, and definitely a much more pleasant experience. I can’t imagine calling acupuncture an “industry” because it doesn’t appear very profitable here, but maybe it’s different where you live.

It looks like yoga has something similar to the same meridians points. The diagrams look so similar.

I really hope there is something good from acupuncture, because I liked the experience and I absolutely dread the MDs.

Victoria, that’s a good selection of warning links. Some of these patients had godawful luck, and it seems the majority of them were people of great faith. I mean, letting someone stick a two-inch long needle into you (without medical qualifications and an allopathic reason to penetrate that deeply)!

Gotta wonder, though, about some of the adverse affects such as fainting and dizzies. Unless there were ever-so-startling jabs to shock the jabbees into losing it, it seems that we’re talking about some kind of effect other than the patient being convinced that they were going to be cured of their ills.

Hmmm. Wonder if the easing of my chronic lower back pain, years ago, by an orthopod’s injection was not just from the dope he injected while imaging my lumbar spine but also from the magic of being needled!

I’ve had dry needling done into triggerpoints in upper traps, seemed to work pretty well on maybe 3rd time, to help release neck spasm.
The needles are a bit thicker and rougher surface (I think)
but it is different thing to acupuncture; maybe it too can get a Trp release as a side-effect?