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Acupuncture: Ineffective for Pain Relief?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by BruceMC, Jun 2, 2013.

  1. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    Was just looking at this new study by David Colquhoun, PhD and Steven P. Novella, MD that concludes that acupuncture has no effect on pain reduction in back pain patients and others:

    http://www.anesthesia-analgesia.org/content/116/6/1360.full.pdf html

    However, I was struck by one of Colquhoun and Novella's caveats:

    "We see no point in discussing surrogate outcomes, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging studies or endorphine release studies, until such time as it has been shown that patients get a useful degree of relief. It is now clear that they do not."

    I gather that MRIs do show that certain areas of the brain are activated when particular acupuncture points are pressed or needled. In James Alexander's The Hidden Psychology of Pain (2012), I read where "needling a toe acupuncture point used to treat eye disorders activates the occipital lobes of the brain which are responsible for vision, as seen in fMRI images of the brain". From this, Dr Alexander concludes, "this suggests a relationship between the stimulation of acupuncture points and the activation of particular areas of the brain." (p. 238)

    So while acupuncture (and by implication EFT) are not particularly efficient means of reducing the perception of pain, they may have other beneficial results, like accessing areas of the brain where emotional memories are stored? It seems like Colquhoun and Novella have limited their findings as to whether acupuncture is an effective anesthetic while ignoring its other potentially beneficial applications.

    I know this study is bound to provoke a fire fight, but I thought I'd throw it out there to get some feedback from others on the Forum.
     
  2. Enrique

    Enrique Well known member

    If I was an acupuncture evangelist, I'd put up a very tough fight.


    But I'm not. :). I didn't read the whole thing but I assume that the placebo effect is what gives people any pain relief?
     
  3. BruceMC

    BruceMC Beloved Grand Eagle

    The topic du jour in the article, Enrique, is pain relief, and the conclusion, as you suspect, is that acupuncture is a placebo cure for it. However, there are MRI studies that show a connection between acupuncture pressure points and specific areas of the brain that control such functions and sight and hearing. There are also studies linking acupuncture pressure points to the production of neurochemicals in the brain. Perhaps, acupuncture can't "cure" pain, but it may help you go deep inside and access certain regions of consciousness you might not be usually aware of. This is more interesting with regard to recovering from TMS than merely using acupuncture to block pain messages in the central nervous system.
     
  4. Enrique

    Enrique Well known member

    Yes, that part of it sounds interesting.
     

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