Acupuncture: the lie of the needle

This weekend there was yet another piece of research trumpeting the benefits of acupuncture; in this case, needling was said to relieve hot flushes in breast cancer patients by up to 50 per cent.

The new study, unveiled at a conference in Berlin, follows similar claims that the ancient treatment can benefit those with arthritis, back pain, migraine and infertility. But is acupuncture really the miracle treatment it seems?

It appears to have become a fashionable cure-all, with 3,000 practitioners now regulated by the British Acupuncture Council. Earlier this year the highly respected British Medical Journal (BMJ) reported that acupuncture could increase IVF success rates by 65 per cent, based on analysis of seven separate trials involving 1,366 women. This research put me in an embarrassing position: I had just sent a book about alternative therapies to the printers.
Co-written with Edzard Ernst, the world's first professor of complementary medicine, we had concluded that acupuncture works only as a placebo, except possibly in the treatment of pain and nausea. In the light of the BMJ study, should we be revising our opinion?

According to Chinese philosophy, acupuncture works by interfering at particular points along channels in our bodies, known as meridians, thereby enhancing the flow of life energy, known as Ch'i. Although the concepts of Ch'i and meridians make no sense in terms of science, medical researchers have been interested in testing the claims of acupuncture ever since the 1970s.

Source - Telegraph

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