Acupunture's benefits are all in the mind, according to a new report.
Researchers found that fake acupuncture is as effective as the real thing at relieving headaches, suggesting the effects are psychological.
When I started looking into acupuncture, I remember hearing someone say: ‘There must be something to acupuncture. After all, you never see any sick porcupines.’
Unfortunately, when I examined the research, it became clear that sticking needles in patients is not as effective as many clinics claim. Indeed, research published last week reinforced the notion that the philosophy of Chinese acupuncture is mumbo-jumbo of the highest quality. The most recent research was based on looking at several clinical trials in which acupuncturists treated patients with headaches.
According to Chinese philosophy, such complaints are due to imbalances in the flow of Ch’i (a supposed life energy) within meridians (channels that supposedly run through our bodies). Inserting needles at the right points along the meridians is meant to affect the Ch’i and cure the patient.
The recent research reviewed two types of acupuncture, namely real and fake. This means that one set of patients had needles inserted at key points along the meridians, while another set of patients had the needles inserted more or less anywhere.
On average, the patients receiving real acupuncture showed significant levels of improvement, but the patients receiving fake acupuncture typically showed similar levels of improvement. In other words, the benefits of acupuncture have nothing to do with meridians of Ch’i, but are merely associated with sticking needles into the body willy-nilly.
This is not shocking news, because several pieces of research have shown that fake acupuncture is often just as effective as real acupuncture. So what’s going on?