The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Dear Believer - Acupuncture

Take a needle, any needle. Now shove it into your arm, leg or face. Likely, this will cause a physiological response i.e. tremendous pain

Acupuncture began in...let's say...Xingmau province in the year 786 B.C.E. (that's completely made up, but does it really matter? It's imaginary, so it's like saying that the Tooth Fairy lives in Stockholm and has regular dinner parties in her new condo. Try and disprove it, fucko).

I know that all the TCM weirdos and people who have been "healed" by acupuncture will come out of the damn woodwork now to say how "closed minded" I am and that I can't argue with 2000 years of results.

Yes, I damn well can.

Time and time again we see clinical trials that are ill-designed showing ambiguously positive results, only to be examined critically and found to be so much more than wanting. In fact, to call some of these "wanting" is sort of like saying, "Micheal Phelps...he can swim pretty good, right?"

Acupuncture is an elaborate placebo and placebos only work if you believe in them (therefore the "treatment" is meaningless). You can bitch and moan all you want, but the bottom line is that acupuncutre has had 2000 years to convince people it's effective and it's failed. You show me a well-controlled, blinded, placebo trial where acupuncture out-performs sham and no treatment, then maybe we can talk.

During masage college, I took a pregnancy course. It was a week long and dealt with the aspects of pregnancy that were relevant to RMTs. Part of one day was spent talking about acupuncture and the instructor handed out needles in clear plastic sheaths. They told us that the fleshy part between your thumb and index finger (on the back of your hand) was a point used to reduce, I think, labor pains.

I, of course, being a douchebag, started sticking my needle in my wrist on the palm side of my arm, then in my forehead between my eyebrows; places that I figured must be important for something.

Other students came up to me after the session to ask what I was doing and where I was "trained". I told them I had no idea what I was doing and that I was just sticking the needles in where I thought might have some effect. Nothing happened, in case you were wondering. Just so you know that the "between-the-eyebrows" point is important, here's a small blurb about it from Yin Yang
Chinese Name Yintang
English Name Hall of Seal

Location: Midway between the medial ends of the eyebrows

Actions & Effects:
Calms the spirit - insomnia, anxiety, stress.
Frontal headache.
Sinus issues - congestion, sinusitis.
Tong Ren/Tam Healing System: Eye and sinus issues, useful point for building the energy in the head during qi gong.

from here
See, I wouldn't lie. Oddly enough though, by my saying "nothing happened", I mean that none of the listed effects in any way were felt by me.

Maybe a trained charlatan has to stick the needles in. Maybe I didn't twirl them enough. Maybe my spleen chakra was influenced by Saturn with Neptune rising which resulted in my 5th meridan being clogged with glowing scroat hairs. It's hard to say.

Acupuncture does cause a physiological response. I won't argue. But, to be fair, getting stabbed in the small intestine causes a physiological response too, it's just not usually therapeutic.

1 Barbaric Yawps:

At 4/3/09 4:18 pm, Blogger Corbie said...

Totally anecdotal and therefore totally worthless, but... My husband's boss is a huuuuuuge believer in acupuncture. Up until a short while ago, his (the boss') big thing was how the acupuncturist was letting out all the "bad blood" in his system by poking him repeatedly under his tongue (which hurts to even think about!). He knew the blood was "bad" because it was "dark" when the acupuncturist showed him. Boss has evidently never heard of unoxygenated blood or that the idea that bloodletting was a good thing was disproven, well, let's just say a very long time ago.

He stopped the "treatments" when he was gone for work for over a week due to having to fight off an enormous infection...wait for it...under his tongue. He still goes to the same acupuncurist, though, since "he knows so much". Kindly insert rolling eyes here.


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