Acupuncture and mixed signals – A match made in heaven
Now, we all know the simple truth: regardless of the proposed mechanism of action, acupuncture still does not appear to work. Any randomized, double blind studies that have been conducted on the matter have consistently shown it to be no better than placebo. Of course, the acupuncture enthusiasts response to these results has been quite ingenious: “The fake acupuncture works just as well as the real thing.” They both work!!! Talk about mixed signals!
Today, I ran across this article which tries to dispel these mixed signals and clarify the matter for us. From the get go my expectations were pretty low. Any article that claims to clarify how acupuncture works is bound to get ridiculous, and TheHorse.com does not disappoint in that regard. Why is this article appearing on a equine website? Why they are talking about animal acupuncture obviously! Let’s get started with the ridiculing…I mean analyzing.
Although acupuncture is frequently used in human and animal health, it needs to be described in terms that most people accept and understand, said Narda G. Robinson, DO, DVM, MS, who recently authored a report on the topic.
Qi (Energy) flows through your body down the meridians (think of it as a road grid, like the square grid in Manhattan). Sometimes the energy flow is affected and it goes out of balance. You stick needles in specific acupoints to restore the balance and you feel better. What can be simpler to understand than that? What is so confusing about it?
Traditional Chinese medicine explains that the invasion of environmental agents, such as cold, wind, dampness, and heat cause pain, and an upset in Yin and Yang disrupts organ function. Acupuncture is supposed to correct this, but to today’s modern mind that sounds like superstition.
That’s because it IS superstition.
“We shouldn’t be selling mysticism as medicine,” Robinson said.
Yes! Finally a sensible person. This is what I have been saying all along! No need for mysticism, just science based medicine.
“Acupuncture is real medicine, based on anatomy and physiology,” she explained. “Getting the best results comes from seeing what’s right in front of us–muscle tension, imbalances in the nervous system, and the health impact of stress, malnutrition, and under- or over-exercise. Belief systems imported from China only muddy the message.”
Ah shoot, got me! For a moment there I thought they were gonna be sensible. Alas, no such luck! No, acupuncture is not real medicine based on either anatomy or physiology. And just what is an “imbalance in the nervous system”? Oh yeah, I know. It’s the modern version of the old mysticism of energy imbalance. I thought we weren’t selling mysticism anymore. What is this the Intelligent Design of the acupuncturists? Yeah, who needs to muddy the new mystic message with the old mystic message?
In medical terms, “Acupuncture appears to work because it dampens pain transmission in the nervous system, which means it turns down the ‘volume’ of painful impulses entering the spinal cord and brain, and changes our emotional state and reaction to painful stimuli,” she said. “Sophisticated brain imaging techniques have told us which parts of the brain are responding to acupuncture and when, providing a ‘real time’ window into brain function during and after acupuncture.”
I know, I know! It’s the parts of the brain that respond when someone is stuck with a needle, or a toothpick for that matter! And just how exactly does acupuncture dampen pain transmission and turn down the pain volume? Of course no one knows, they just claim it does.
Owners who want to use acupuncture to treat their horses should choose a veterinarian who approaches acupuncture scientifically, she said.
This is easy, there shouldn’t be any, since acupuncture is not a scientific modality!
Robinson recommended that owners find out the facts about any modality before using it on their horse.
Great, and that research should show the owners that acupuncture has never been shown to work. But then of course we can’t expect anyone to be aware of the criteria for good evidence and properly designed studies, so most likely they will be convinced by the anecdotes.
Oh acupuncturists, acupuncturists, when will you stop with the BS?