So I did a search on Google
for acupuncture today and was reading through some articles. Some were on the latest research. Some were on a new clinic that just opened up somewhere on the east coast. Some were written by acupuncturists who went through "Medical Acupuncture" training. This last group were the ones that caught my eye today and have spurred on this post. First off, I want to write a little bit of a disclaimer. I'm getting ready to hop up on my soapbox here, so if you're not interested, just close your browser window now ;)
And now, let the games begin!
First off, a little background on "Medical Acupuncture." Medical acupuncture is the result of biomedicine taking acupuncture and using it for their own purposes. They've seen that huge amounts of people get acupuncture done on a regular basis. They've seen that these people have had sometimes miraculous results. They've taken acupuncture and stripped it of its system (because Qi, Yin and Yang are faniciful, magical theories that can't exist) and turned it into a set of recipes. For pain you do this set of points. For nausea - this set. For diarrhea yet another set. There isn't a great amount of attention paid to the Chinese medical diagnosis, as there is to the symptoms. Biomedicine has found through research that certain points are used often in treating certain conditions and feels that all of the "magical" theory of Qi, Yin and Yang can be discarded. Sounds familiar, right? That's what biomedicine does! They want to find the active ingredient in order to turn it into a marketable pill. Forget that there may be other ingredients that are working with the active ingredient to make it even more powerful!
For the record, I don't actually have a problem with "Medical Acupuncture." People who practice this style of acupuncture get results and patients DO feel better!
However. Yes, there's a however. (You should know me by now!) This system of acupuncture has been watered down, and I think the results get watered down in the process as well. By ignoring the theories of Chinese medicine, you leave out its main purpose - to treat not just the symptoms, but the body as a whole.
Chinese medicine has been in existence for at least 5000 years. The system has been tried and true and is still used as a MAJOR form of healthcare in China. Can't we just leave it at that? Do we HAVE to know HOW it works? We know from reasearch that acupuncture releases endorphins. We know that it effects our nervous system. However, science still can't explain HOW it works. Acupuncture may effect nerves and endorphins, but it goes beyond that, and science can't figure out what "that" is!
I'm not saying stop the research. Not at all. What I'm saying is that researchers and those reading the studies need to understand that there's more working here than endorphins and neurons, and that the system doesn't work by using just one point! When you read a study that says, "this point doesn't work for that symptom," please keep in mind that no point is meant to work in isolation. Acupuncture is a system
, not a pill. Also, "that point" may not work on everyone with "that symptom," because not every patient has the Chinese medical diagnosis that calls for "that point;" they may need another point that is also good for "that symptom."
When you take a system that is not based on science (though science often CAN support that it works) and try to look at it through your scientific lens, you might not get to see it for what it is. When you boil that system down to try to find what makes it tick, you lose the magic that holds it together. You lose that which makes it work. Don't ignore the stuff that makes it work. Let's not forget that Qi and Yin and Yang and all of the theories of Chinese medicine ARE Chinese medicine. Let there be some scientific unknowns. Let there be magic!