Sunday, February 22, 2009

Acupuncture Medic


His friend holds his head on his lap. The pain is tremendous as the Tali Ban launches another attack in eastern Afghanistan. Blood is covering his lap and he knows he has to get help. So he screams “Acupuncturist”. This is the vision I got when reading an article about the Air Force to train combat docs to use acupuncture. What a load of bull manure. The Navy already apparently uses it. The myths are ripe in the military. Don’t our brave men and women serving this country deserve treatment that is shown to work! And not based on Bull Manure.
The name traditional medicine was first promoted by Mao Tse-tung in 1947. He engineered the return to traditional Chinese medicine as it was dying out. His motivation was not that it worked, but he needed to deliver affordable healthcare in china that had no access to modern medicine via the “barefoot doctors”. He only cared that he could keep the masses contented. In fact Mao said: “Even though I believe we should promote Chinese medicine, I personally do not believe in it. I don’t take Chinese medicine.” There is a famous case in 1972 during Nixon’s trip to China. In the preparatory trip made by Henry Kissinger in July of 1971 an aid named James Reston got sick and needed surgery for appendicitis. He was taken to Anti-Imperialist Hospital for standard surgical treatment and was also cared for by Dr. Li Chang-yaun, a man who had not been to medical school, but apprenticed in acupuncture. Reston wrote his experience up and it was published in the New York Times on 26 July 1971, under the headline “Now about My Operation in Peking”. It appararently relieved his pain and helped his bowels move after surgery. It is now known that he actually received doses
pain meds along with the acupuncture and most of the explanations and film of other similar surgeries, including a famous one showing open chest lung surgery, were done with deception and regular traditional medicine.
Early studies here in the U.S. and abroad showed some effect, these studies were flawed. However, larger better controlled double blind placebo trials were done in the 1990s and into the first years of this century and specifically Cochrane reviews were done. Cochrane reviews are studies that control for quality of studies and statistical proofs. The Cochrane reviews conclude that any perceived benefit from acupuncture is merely a placebo effect.
A nurse recently made a comment to me that some of this works. Does it? Or is it placebo effect and the shear need or desire for something to work and be true, doesn’t mean it is!

The Skeptical Dodo

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