ACUPUNCTURE & HOLISTIC HEALth RESEARCH
Before you dive into the studies I've included below I want to clarify a few things about acupuncture and the Western model of science that is the basis of most research studies.
ACUPUNCTURE IS ANCIENT
The earliest record of people using acupuncture is nearly 5,000 years ago. Think about that, what else do you know that has been around for 5,000 years?! Within this time there is an enormous amount of anecdotal and evidence-based data of how acupuncture has been used as an effective and safe treatment option.
TRYING TO PUT THE EAST IN A WESTERN BOX
Our Western scientific model and view of #science is rooted mainly in research studies and lab tests. Although this can be a beneficial way to evaluate certain hypotheses and/or the efficacy of pharmaceuticals and other therapies, there are a few problems we run into when evaluating Chinese Medicine:
1. Acupuncture + Eastern medicine do not fit neatly into the Western model of research that is based around double-blind studies and placebos.
Double-blind study + Acupuncture?
One of the gold standards of the Western research model is the double-blind study. This is where neither the person(s) administering the test nor the test subjects know whether they are receiving the "real" treatment or the fake one. As you can imagine this is nearly impossible to do with acupuncture as the patient is aware of whether they are receiving acupuncture and the practitioner will also know whether they are truly doing acupuncture or not.
“Sham acupuncture” is what they often use as a placebo or control group. It is where they put the needles in "non" acupuncture points or near the acupuncture point. Unfortunately it is a flawed and ineffective substitute for a true placebo. “Sham acupuncture” often produces results or makes physiological changes in the body. This can be confusing for the test results and skeptics use this to argue that acupuncture doesn’t work.
However, based on Chinese Medicine theory, these “sham” procedures are still having an effect on your qi (energy) and will still make changes in your nervous system, pain and inflammation levels, etc. Inserting the needle in any part of your body whether it's an acupuncture point or not is going to make a shift in your body and therefore alter the results.
This is why designing research around acupuncture is tough.
2. There is little financial incentive to offer acupuncture as an alternative to medication and surgery.
Research studies are expensive. Most studies have a company or investor that pays for the expenses involved with running, operating and publishing studies. In the United States, pharmaceutical companies fund the majority of medical research. Because they can't patent acupuncture like they could a drug or pharmaceutical, there are few companies or sponsors able or willing to finance large scale acupuncture studies.
In addition to this, the chronic pain and illness industry is (unfortunately) booming. Now, I'm the first to admit that there is a time and place for Western Medicine and pharmaceuticals. However, there is a desperate need for an improvement in how the West approaches preventative medicine and care for chronic conditions. These are two categories where acupuncture and Chinese Medicine EXCEL!
So although I'm not suggesting that "the man" is trying to make you fat, sick and tired, I am suggesting that many companies are not in a rush to find a healthy, long-term, side-effect free alternative to these conditions.
If you'd like to read more on the topic of how #SCIENCE in the US isn't quite as straightforward as we hope it is, I'd encourage you to check out some of the following:
So as we discussed above, the scientific method <especially when talking about acupuncture> is not perfect. It is however, absolutely necessary to evaluate "science" and new ideas. It's the best that we have right now and we can only hope that as technology and our understanding of the body and mind advance, we will be able to more accurately study the effects of acupuncture on the body.
For those of you who want more information on what we have found on acupuncture, the studies below demonstrate that acupuncture does indeed have a measurable effect, even in some cases where “sham” acupuncture is used.
PRO TIP: Hold CTRL + F to search for a specific topic
Acupuncture + Acne
Acupuncture + Addiction
Acupuncture + Allergies
Acupuncture + Anxiety
Acupuncture + Arthritis
Acupuncture + Asthma
Acupuncture + Bell’s Palsy
Acupuncture + Bladder
Acupuncture + Carpal Tunnel
Acupuncture + Cancer
Acupuncture + Depression
Acupuncture + Digestive Disorders
Acupuncture + Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture + Headaches/Migraines
Acupuncture in the Hospital
Acupuncture + Inflammation
Acupuncture + Insomnia
Acupuncture + Immunity
Acupuncture + Kids
Acupuncture + Knee Pain
Acupuncture + Low Back Pain
Acupuncture + Menopause
Acupuncture + Multiple Sclerosis
Acupuncture + Neck Pain
Acupuncture + Neuralgia
Acupuncture + Pain
- Acupuncture Soothes Pain NBC News Report
- Acupuncture Effective at Reducing Chronic Pai
Acupuncture + Pregnancy
Acupuncture + Stress
Acupuncture + Trauma
Acupuncture + Weight-Loss
Acupuncture & Women's Health
Mechanisms of Acupuncture
Acupuncture does this: Hacking the Nervous System
Research on other holistic Practices
Chinese Medicine is Powerful
Heat Not Ice for Injuries
Why You Should Seriously Eat Less Sugar
Infographic on Sugar’s Effects on the Body
Benefits of Meditation
Importance of Sleep
Exercise and Stress
Which Fish You Should Eat
Risks of Common Western Medications