Can You Find Mass Flow Rates If None Are Given Sham Healthcare: The Real History of Acupuncture

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Sham Healthcare: The Real History of Acupuncture

Although acupuncture is widely accepted as a viable health care method, the available evidence suggests that it has no effect at all. The academic study was conducted at the Department of Internal Medicine of the Technical University of Munich, Germany. Thirty-four healthy volunteers received two laser acupuncture treatments at three acupuncture points LI4 (hégu), LU7 (liéque), and LR3 (táichong); once with the functional laser and once using the inactive laser in random order. The only method for monitoring a client’s response to acupuncture is called the MGH Acupuncture Sensation Scale (MASS), and this method simply asks the client how they felt with each acupuncture treatment. In this study, inactive laser treatment had the same positive response in all 34 participants, even in people who had never received acupuncture therapy in their lives. If a laser that is not turned on at all elicits the same positive response as targeted, laser-precise pressure on traditionally used acupuncture points in the body, this method cannot be considered a scientific method of collecting data that can be used to measure effectiveness. It is enough to tell people that they are receiving acupuncture treatment for them to say that it is effective.

Practitioners of acupuncture claim that this area of ​​health care works by interrupting the flow of a force called “Qi” through pressure or needles. “Qi” has never been observed or measured, so no truly scientific method has ever been created to demonstrate or even suggest that it exists. Those who claim that this is the mechanism by which acupuncture works, and that acupuncture is their main source of income, maintain a belief in the existence of “Qi”, an invisible, immeasurable force. Any data interpreted using MASS by someone with a financial interest in proving their area of ​​health care would be skewed by that interest in favor of efficiency.

Contrary to popular belief that acupuncture as we know it has been around for “thousands of years”, it actually originated in France in the 18th century. The Chinese practiced a version of acupuncture, but it did not include any mention of “Qi” and had nothing in common with the modern practice, other than the use of some type of needle. Archaeologists who discovered these needles at ancient Chinese sites reported that the needles were quite large (up to a foot long), and there were several skulls with holes near the needles, suggesting that people died by this method. The modern methods we see today are quite different and were invented by French doctors who revived an obscure Chinese tradition using much smaller needles that would not kill patients. They also added their own techniques, including explaining the success of acupuncture as the manipulation of “Qi”.

An imitation of the French version was introduced to England in 1821 by Edward Joukes, a midwife who, according to the French method, administered needles to a woman complaining of “pain in the lower back”. After using the needles, her condition was not investigated. After the French physician Chevalier Sarlandiere claimed in a French medical journal that the French method was successful, doctors in America also began to support its benefits. Franklin Bache, the great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin, discussed the practice in various medical journals across America in 1826 and gave it a favorable review based on an article in a French journal. None of these Americans actually tried the method or tracked its success. Because the French version was said to be derived from an “ancient Chinese tradition,” American doctors began questioning the Chinese settlers about the details of the method. The poor but smart Chinese settlers added the details to the French and then began to offer this service for money, as it paid well, caused no harm and provoked a positive response from customers. This is where modern acupuncture became part of Chinese culture and Chinese names for acupuncture points were adopted.

A closer look at the history and different styles of acupuncture will reveal that it is a relatively new phenomenon and has no common method. There are Japanese, Thai, Korean, and Indian versions, most of which were invented in the last few decades. Some styles require the insertion of needles, some use touch, and others simply wave the hands over “energy meridians.” Practitioners from all these schools of acupuncture claim that it is clinically effective, but none have proven its value through rigorous scientific scrutiny.

It is also worth noting that acupuncturists mostly claim to treat diseases that are psychosomatic (impotence), intermittent (headaches, acne) or diseases that always go away over time (colds). There are also various endorphins and steroids (cortisol) that are released when the skin is punctured and will block the pain for a short time; however, it can be compared to kicking someone in the knee to prevent a headache.

With no evidence of the existence of “Qi”, no common practice to evaluate, little historical evidence of a cultural phenomenon, and empirical evidence against its utility, acupuncture should not be allowed into modern healthcare. Because patients expect to trust the advice of their medical community, an open and honest discussion about acupuncture is essential in a field that thrives on integrity. This editorial was completely honest with its readers, whether they liked it or not. Can we be honest with ourselves when we have documentation that challenges our belief structures? Yes you can.

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