Acupuncture does not appear to aid in stroke recovery, according to a new study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Acupuncture is often used to supplement traditional stroke rehabilitation, although its effectiveness is uncertain. It is necessary to have evidence of effectiveness from rigorous randomized clinical trials to recommend routine therapeutic use.
This study, perhaps the most comprehensive to date as it includes trials published in English language and Asian journals, was a systematic review conducted by researchers in South Korea and the United Kingdom. They included 10 studies (out of a potential 664) with a total of 711 patients who had had strokes.
“Few randomized, sham-controlled trials have tested the effectiveness of acupuncture during stroke rehabilitation,” writes Dr. Edzard Ernst, Peninsula Medical School, Exeter, England with coauthors. “The majority of the existing studies do not suggest that acupuncture is effective.” They note that the only two studies showing positive effect were highly biased and had poor reporting which made them less reliable that the others included.
The authors conclude that “the evidence from rigorous studies testing the effectiveness of acupuncture during stroke rehabilitation is negative.”
Interpretation: Our meta-analyses of data from rigorous randomized sham-controlled trials did not show a positive effect of acupuncture as a treatment for functional recovery after stroke.
This is insane, immoral, inhuman and I sure hope to goodness, illegal!
Doctors who face a shortage of anaesthetic drugs and expertise in war-torn Iraq have successfully used acupuncture techniques for Caesarean section deliveries, according to a new small study.
How the hell do you measure success when you’re cutting a woman’s belly open without anesthesia? What is the objective way of measuring the pain here? You know there is another word for this procedure before, it’s called torture! And what the hell does it mean to be a doctor who faces a shortage of expertise? Can someone explain that to me?
The researchers said that if their results were replicated in a larger study, such practices could be a useful addition to standard medical practice in fully equipped hospitals.
Oh let me get this straight, you want more pregnant women to have their bellies spliced open without anesthesia? Fuck no asshole. Come here, let me introduce you to my little friend: ETHICS!
The technique was used to counter the effects of halothane, which relaxes the womb, but carries an increased risk of bleeding as a result. Oxytocin is normally used to counteract these effects, but was in short supply at the time.
As soon as possible after delivery, six acupuncture needles were inserted into the mother’s toes and ankles and manually stimulated for five to ten minutes. The acupuncture points relate to bleeding from the womb, prolapse of the womb, difficult labour, uterine contractions and retention of the placenta.
What? You just said it was used by doctors facing “a shortage of anesthetic drugs” and now you’re saying it was used after delivery to control bleeding? Would you make up your fucking mind already. Actually this is good news; it means whoever wrote this piece of garbage is either trying to be funny or a complete imbecile, which carries with it a ray of hope that this whole thing just may not be true, that doctors are not using acupuncture instead of anesthesia anywhere in the world.
A Fair Lawn couple admitted on Monday that they failed to take their two-year-old daughter to the hospital as she died from a ruptured appendix.
Raymond and Nicole Ahles, with her attorney, Arthur Zucker, right, said that their daughter, Ocean, was six weeks shy of her third birthday when she became sick in April 2006.
Raymond Ahles, an acupuncturist, and his wife, Nicole, said in Superior Court in Hackensack that their daughter, Ocean, was six weeks shy of her third birthday when she became sick in April 2006.
They said they took the child to a Fort Lee acupuncturist, who advised them to take the girl to the hospital.
“But based on your self-diagnosis, did you knowingly decide not to seek medical care?” defense attorney Paul Brickfield asked Raymond Ahles.
“Yes,” Ahles replied.
Brickfield and Nicole Ahles’ attorney, Arthur Zucker, said the couple thought the girl was suffering from a routine stomach bug.
“Appendicitis in such young children is misdiagnosed by the medical profession 70 percent of the time,” they said in a written statement.
The couple’s other daughter was also diagnosed with appendicitis last year at the age of two, and that she fully recovered after surgery, the attorneys said.
I ran across this Samuel L. Jackson story about his troubles with back pain. It turns out he had to get an epidural to finish shooting SWAT, and had to have back surgery after the filming was over.
“When I was doing S.W.A.T. I woke up one morning… I couldn’t move. I rolled out of bed, crawled to the bathroom, I took, like, eight Advil (painkillers) and eventually I ended up getting an epidural so I could finish the movie,” he explained. “Then two days after the movie was over they discovered I had a cyst on my sciatica so they plucked that off and I was done, I could walk. Then last year I ended up with a crushed nerve between my L4 and L5, so I have what’s known as a coflex device which is a titanium piece built like a seat and is clamped to the upper phalange and the lower phalanges so when I bend forward it opens and when I bend backwards it closes so I can still turn fully without getting fused. So I’ve had a couple of back things.”
It’s always nice to see stories of actual science-based medicine helping people, and it doesn’t hurt when a celebrity sings its praises. But then, the article had to close with this:
The 61-year-old now relies on acupuncture to keep himself in shape, saying he can’t get enough of the practice. “It’s one of my favourite things. I get it all the time, like twice a week, for my well being,” he told American talk show host Ellen Degeneres. “I just go and get my ‘waa’ put in place, and get everything moving.”
*Sigh* Samuel, Samuel…Samuel! Why? Acupuncture is bunk; acupuncture did not come to your help when you really needed it; in fact, acupuncture could not have helped you with your back problems (check out a few studies I link to in my Important Studies page). Why is it that all these alt med modalities can’t seem to help with anything that can be objectively measured, such as the problem you had when shooting SWAT for example? Why is it that it is only those very subjective things that acupuncture seems to help with?
Samuel, I know money is not an issue for you, but still I urge you to stop wasting it. Donate it to charity instead; trust me it will make you feel better.
There is no evidence acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine increase the chance of getting pregnant through IVF, fertility experts say in new guidance.
The methods are increasingly offered as a way of boosting the chances of a baby, but the British Fertility Society suggests couples may be wasting money.
They analysed 14 trials involving 2,670 people before issuing the new guidance.
But a leading practitioner said that better designed trials would show that the methods could help some couples.
All the trials involved acupuncture, in which needles were inserted into different areas of the body at different stages in the in vitro fertilisation (IVF) cycle.
No matter at what stage of the process acupuncture was used, it had no impact on the pregnancy or live birth rate, the BFS researchers found.
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?
In my previous entry I railed against the NCI’s portrayal of acupuncture on their website. After blowing off some steam, I wrote a nice, polite, but direct e-mail to the folks at the NCI with the hopes that someone would forward it to the Director. Below I reproduce the e-mail. I will keep folks posted if I get a reply.
I am trying to reach Dr. Niederhuber, but was unable to find a direct contact e-mail address online. Please forward this message to his attention.
Dear Dr. Niederhuber,
I am writing to you to direct your attention, and to express my indignation, at the appallingly credulous portrayal of acupuncture in the NCI website’s Q&A section. The answers to the questions show complete disregard for the scientific evidence, and its verdict so far on acupuncture; that is performs no better than placebo when properly designed trials are conducted. Yet the NCI website leaves the reader with the impression that not only does acupuncture work when it comes to cancer, but that it is also endorsed/recommended by the NCI, which is quite a dangerous impression to leave your readers with.
I do not intend to take too much of your time with this e-mail, so I will direct you to my lengthier blog entry (http://tinyurl.com/nzgxos) on this, in the hopes that you can, and will be willing to, address this unforgivable oversight and correct the language in the website to align it with the best available scientific evidence. The NCI website is one of the first stops that people dealing with cancer go to, and I believe that NCI must hold itself to the highest standards and commit to distributing science based advice, and not lend credibility to discredited CAM modalities.
Being a doctor yourself, I am sure that you’ll agree with me that there is no such thing as “alternative” medicine. If it works it is medicine, if not it is myth and superstition. I believe the NCI has an obligation to embrace real medicine and science in its dealings with the public, and it needs to proudly express its devotion to the scientific method. Unfortunately, the above mentioned, Q&A section on acupuncture does exactly the opposite by endorsing acupuncture.
Thank you very much for your time.
I would like to invite all Skepfeeds enthusiasts to use a similar version and let the NCI know that their behavior is unacceptable.
Via the never tiring James Randi we get our attention directed to the acupuncture section in the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI), a division of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, section on acupuncture. You may head over to the JREF entry to get Randi’s story. My concern in this entry is along the same lines, to go over the Q&A section on acupuncture and how appallingly credulously the NCI is reporting on acupuncture, despite the complete lack of scientific evidence that it does anything that it purports to do!
If you agree with me, I invite everyone to write an e-mail to the NCI and express your indignation that the NCI is so clearly implying its acceptance of this most easily demonstrable form of woo. Here go the NCI’s Q&A about acupuncture.
1. What is acupuncture? Acupuncture applies needles, heat, pressure, and other treatments to certain places on the skin to cause a change in the physical functions of the body. The use of acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). TCM is a medical system that has been used for thousands of years to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease.
Acupuncture is based on the belief that qi (vital energy) flows through the body along a network of paths, called meridians. Qi is said to affect a person’s spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical condition. According to TCM, qi has two forces, yin and yang. Yin and yang are opposite forces that work together to form a whole. The forces of yin and yang depend on each other and are made from each other in an unending cycle, such as hot and cold, day and night, and health and disease. Nothing is ever all yin or all yang, both exist in all things, including people. Many of the major organs of the body are believed to be yin-yang pairs that must be in balance to be healthy. When a person’s yin and yang are not in balance, qi can become blocked. Blocked qi causes pain, illness, or other health problems. TCM uses acupuncture, diet, herbal therapy, meditation, physical exercise, and massage to restore health by unblocking qi and correcting the balance of yin and yang within the person.
According to TCM, qi can be unblocked by using acupuncture at certain places on the skin, called acupoints. Acupoints are places where the meridians come to the surface of the body. There are more than 2,000 acupoints on the human body, with specific acupoints for each condition being treated.
From the very first sentence it is clear the the NCI has no intention of providing the scientific version of the acupuncture fable, but it intends to stick with the politically correct version of disregarding the science and not coming off as, dare I say, scientific? I challenge the NCI to provide the scientific evidence that shows that acupuncture causes a change in the physical functions of the body, beyond being poked with a steel needle! In fact, I can show that using acupuncture is no different from sham acupuncture which doesn’t even penetrate the skin! Check out my Acupuncture section on my Important Studies page. Not all inclusive by any means, but quite telling.
The other two paragraphs are a concise summary of what acupuncture purports to be, but where is any mentioning of the evidence to back up such claims? Shouldn’t we expect at least a token “no scientific evidence exists to support this idea” sentence on the NCI’s website?
2. What is the history of the discovery and use of acupuncture as a complementary and alternative treatment for cancer?
The oldest medical book known, written in China 4000 years ago, describes the use of acupuncture to treat medical problems. The use of the treatment spread to other Asian countries and to other regions of the world, including to Europe by the 1700s. In the United States, acupuncture has been used for about 200 years.
Research on acupuncture began in the United States in 1976. Twenty years later, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the acupuncture needle as a medical device. Many illnesses are treated with acupuncture, but it is used mainly to control pain, including pain in cancer patients. Its primary use in cancer patients has been as an addition to conventional (standard) therapy.
Again, I challenge the folks at NCI to provide the evidence that “many illnesses are treated with acupuncture”. Which illnesses are successfully treated with it? Dare I say none? Why is the NCI not mentioning that acupuncture is virtually indistinguishable from placebo? That it is virtually the placebo effect in action? Why this deafening silence? This is a government sponsored, read our tax dollars sponsored, website that’s supposed to be one of the premiere stops for cancer information, and this is the sort of nonsense they have up there? Disappointing, very disappointing!
3. What is the theory behind the claim that acupuncture is useful in treating cancer? Acupuncture may cause physical responses in nerves cells, the pituitary gland, and parts of the brain. These responses can cause the body to release proteins, hormones, and brain chemicals that control a number of body functions. It is proposed that, by these actions, acupuncture affects blood pressure and body temperature, boosts immune system activity, and causes the body’s natural painkillers, such as endorphins, to be released.
May do this, may do that. I call bullshit. In question 1 they went over the Qi, yin-yang version, and here they start blabbering about proteins, hormones, endorphins etc etc. And they have the audacity to use the phrase “boost the immune system” in here? How preposterous is that?
5. Have any preclinical (laboratory or animal) studies been conducted using acupuncture? Scientific studies on the use of acupuncture to treat cancer and side effects of cancer began only recently. Laboratory and animal studies suggest that acupuncture can reduce vomiting caused by chemotherapy and may help the immune system be stronger during chemotherapy.
Oh stop your weaseling will you? There is no need to refer to animal studies, or preclinical studies, there are many double-blind, randomized clinical trials, in real humans that one can refer too. Again, I challenge the folks at NCI to provide us with the studies that show that acupuncture may “help the immune system be stronger during chemotherapy.” You wanna bet that no study the purports to show this will pass the weakest of smell tests?
6. Have any clinical trials (research studies with people) of acupuncture been conducted? Most studies of the use of acupuncture in cancer patients have been done in China. In 1997, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) began evaluating the safety and effectiveness of acupuncture as a complementary and alternative therapy.
- Studies of the effect of acupuncture on the immune system Human studies on the effect of acupuncture on the immune system of cancer patients showed that it improved immune system response.
- In clinical studies, acupuncture reduced the amount of pain in some cancer patients. In one study, most of the patients treated with acupuncture were able to stop taking drugs for pain relief or to take smaller doses. The findings from these studies are not considered strong, however, because of weaknesses in study design and size. Studies using strict scientific methods are needed to prove how acupuncture affects pain.
- The strongest evidence of the effect of acupuncture has come from clinical trials on the use of acupuncture to relieve nausea and vomiting. Several types of clinical trials using different acupuncture methods showed acupuncture reduced nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, surgery, and morning sickness. It appears to be more effective in preventing vomiting than in reducing nausea.
- Clinical trials are studying the effects of acupuncture on cancer and symptoms caused by cancer treatment, including weight loss, cough, chest pain, fever, anxiety, depression, night sweats, hot flashes, dry mouth, speech problems, and fluid in the arms or legs. Studies have shown that, for many patients, treatment with acupuncture either relieves symptoms or keeps them from getting worse.
Yeah, yeah sure. Links please! Citations please so we may look at all these great studies. The point that NCI doesn’t seem to get, or is willingy refusing to accept, is not if it “reduced pain is some patients”. The point is this: did it perform better than placebo? Better than sham acupuncture? How weakly designed were these studies? Studies using strict scientific methods have been performed and shown it not to work better than placebo. Need I direct people to my Important Studies page again? Who is writing these answers for the NCI, Jenny McCarthy?
7. Have any side effects or risks been reported from acupuncture? There have been few complications reported. Problems are caused by using needles that are not sterile (free of germs) and from placing the needle in the wrong place, movement of the patient, or a defect in the needle. Problems include soreness and pain during treatment; feeling tired, lightheaded, or sleepy; and infections. Because chemotherapy and radiation therapy weaken the body’s immune system, a strict clean needle method must be used when acupuncture treatment is given to cancer patients. It is important to seek treatment from a qualified acupuncture practitioner who uses a new set of disposable (single-use) needles for each patient.
I guess this is fairly correct, unless you take these into account obviously. I’d say death is a pretty important side effect, no?
8. Is acupuncture approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as a cancer treatment in the United States?
The FDA approved acupuncture needles for use by licensed practitioners in 1996. The FDA requires that sterile, nontoxic needles be used and that they be labeled for single use by qualified practitioners only.
THEY’RE NOT EVEN ANSWERING THEIR OWN QUESTION! The question was not about the needles. It was asking if the FDA has approved acupuncture for use as a cancer treatment. That about says it all. Spineless cowardice and refusal to call a cow, a cow! NCI you fail. F !
If you want some of the benefits of a facelift, but without the surgical procedure and the associated high costs and long recovery process, then you might consider acupuncture facelift.
Yeah sure, go ahead and consider it, but if you don’t reject it as utter rubish…you need help…professional help…just go see a shrink ok?
Actually, an acupuncture facelift is not a facelift in the traditional sense, and you should not expect to see the same dramatic results a conventional facelift can produce. So, what can you expect?
Uh, pick me, pick me! Non-dramatic results? Yes? Yayyy! What a clever way of saying it won’t do shit.
A more accurate term for an acupuncture facelift is “acupuncture facial rejuvenation” or “cosmetic acupuncture.” Although it is not a replacement for surgery, cosmetic acupuncture is a safe, painless, and less costly alternative for a traditional facelift.
Sure, and also did I mention that it won’t do shit?
Cosmetic acupuncture is a series of acupuncture treatments to the face, ears, neck, hands, trunk, and legs along channels (meridians) through which the life force (chi) flows. The treatments are designed to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, improve your complexion, reduce puffiness, soften deep lines and wrinkles, improve muscle tone, enhance circulation, and give your face a more relaxed, younger look.
Don’t you just love chi? I don’t know about you but my life force flows through my….you know! How long before we get penis enlargement acupuncuture?
Why do acupuncturists treat areas other than your face, ears, and neck? According to Chinese traditional medicine, many meridians start or end on the face while others have a remote effect on the face. Treating points along meridians away from the face has the effect of both benefiting the face and rejuvenating the entire body.
Of course, why not!
Depending on the condition of your skin, you may see noticeable results after the first session. Generally, practitioners of cosmetic acupuncture and their clients report that fine lines and wrinkles can significantly improve after just four or five sessions. A complete cosmetic acupuncture program takes about 10 to 15 sessions, and maintenance or “booster” treatments are recommended monthly or bimonthly.
You wanna bet whoever is offering this stuff has before and after pictures? Do you wanna bet the before pictures are taken in bad lighting with no make up and the subject is making a sad/neutral face, while the after are taken in the best lighting possible, with tons of make up and everyone is laughing happily? 10-15 session plus “booster” treatments to improve “fine lines and wrinkles”. Hmmmmmm?
A survey of several cosmetic acupuncture facilities found that some recommend having two sessions per week for several weeks, then one per week to the end of the program; others suggest one per week throughout. The bottom line is, it is up to you and your acupuncturist to determine a schedule that works best for you.
Obviously, because it’s holistic you see, it’s about you and it’s meant to make you feel precious and taken care off. Don’t you just feel special?
People will never stop coming up with new and improved versions of woo will they? Just when you think that a modality has been so definitely battered by science and evidence that it ought to wither and die, just when we’re getting ready to get out of the acupuncture fight…they pull us right back in. Oh and this one is a clever one:
Martha Lucas, Ph.D., L.Ac., Denver-based acupuncturist and practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), has authored “Vanity Calamity: Your Guide to Cosmetic Acupuncture for Anti-aging.” The announcement is made by Dr. Lucas who says “Vanity Calamity tells the history of vanity and what women have been willing to do to look younger or more beautiful. Now there’s a healthy, safe option – Cosmetic Acupuncture. My new book, now available for purchase at Amazon.com, shares how to look young naturally.”
As Terra Sig rightly points out, it is quite telling that she is billing her “option” as healthy and safe, not particularly effective. What I find even more telling is that Dr. Lucas, has a PhD in Psychology, which I suspect would come in very handy with the gullible crowd of acupuncture believers.
As a practitioner of TCM, Dr. Lucas has seen the negative side effects that can occur through use of modern techniques for looking younger. “I’ve seen a patient whose face was still numb two years after a surgical facelift, a neck burned by a laser treatment, a young mother who was upset that she couldn’t make facial expressions after receiving Botox® injections, and a woman whose skin had hyper-pigmentation after a ‘natural’ peel,” Dr. Lucas explains. “In turn, I decided the general public needed more information about the natural option called Cosmetic Acupuncture – hence my new book.”
Right, so in exchange I offer you my brand new, fresh off the woo oven, no-side-effect , not-shown-to-have-an-effect-either therapy based on millennia old magical thinking and pseudo science. But hey, you won’t get a burn and your face won’t be numb at least!
Vanity Calamity is full of information that people need to know about how to use natural medicine to look younger and feel more vibrant. According to Dr. Lucas, “we have forgotten the importance of our natural beauty and that it can often be achieved through the use of natural means.”
Naturally! Because what’s more “natural” than sticking man-made, steel needles in your body?