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Acupuncture doesn't work


By thunderlips11   Follow   Tue, 11 Dec 2012, 1:00pm   512 views   9 comments
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Since many of my objections to acupuncture in another thread got deleted, here are my points uncensored by a thread starter. I only censor content-free ad hom posts, and I can't even remember doing that once on Pat.net:

* Wikipedia is not research
* "May" and "Possibly" are hedge words that means there were no conclusive results. In Stat 101 I learned that "May" and "Possibly" are usually used in pop-science journalism to generate interest, and usually indicates the findings were weak (ie within the margin of error, or assignable to...)
* the Placebo Effect
* Acupuncture is like Prayer, it only works on vague pains and subjective symptoms that can't be objectively verified. We can't verify if somebody's vague back pain is vaguely less or vaguely more than it was. We can count White Blood Cells. Or a decline in hormone production. Or lowered blood pressure.

No study ever showed something like "Syphilis patients who received both antibiotics AND acupuncture recovered faster than the control group who just received antibiotics. We found that in the blood of those treated by acupuncturists, more white blood cells were produced in shorter times, etc."

The best evidence that acupuncture works as a Placebo:

The benefits of acupuncture are sometimes difficult to measure, but many people find it helpful as a means to control a variety of painful conditions.

Several studies, however, indicate that some types of simulated acupuncture appear to work just as well as real acupuncture. There also is evidence that acupuncture works best in people who expect it to work.

Since acupuncture has few side effects, it may be worth a try if you're having trouble controlling pain with more-conventional methods.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/acupuncture/MY00946/METHOD=print

In other words, faux acupuncture produced the same "I feel better!" results versus a sugar pill. This is positive evidence - of a placebo effect.

http://articles.latimes.com/2006/feb/06/health/he-briefly6

In the other thread, there was a study that showed that anti-inflammatory chemicals were produced when the skin was poked. That does not show that acupuncture is effective, only that when your body is penetrated by a sharp object, your body assumes damage and rushes a repair squad to the site of the penetration.

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  1. thunderlips11


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    1   1:29pm Tue 11 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (2)  

    Some "Conspiracy" theory for you - how the NCCAM got founded:

    In 1991 Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) was a main figure on the appropriations subcommittee in charge of the NIH. (In 2010, he still is.) In 1992 Harkin slipped a line in the report accompanying the NIH appropriations bill that created the NIH Office of Alternative Medicine with $1 million in seed money. Never mind that there is no such thing as "alternative" medicine. If we have an Office of Alternative Medicine, who could question it? In 1999 President Clinton signed into law an appropriations bill that gave the OAM its current name and pumped up its budget to $50 million a year so it could establish a new National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at Bastyr University, a naturopathic college outside of Seattle.*

    Harkin got the bug for alternative therapies when he came to believe that his hay fever had been cured by bee pollen. He and a few other political buddies wanted to fund research that would prove the effectiveness of bee pollen and other quackery. Iowa representative Berkeley Bedell believed that Anablast (created by a quack named Gaston Naessens; the stuff is also called "Naessens Serum") had cured his prostate cancer and that cow colostrum had cured his Lyme disease. Cow colostrum doesn't cure anything and Anablast is pure quackery. There is no evidence in the scientific literature that bee pollen cures allergies or has any beneficial effect. Worse, bee pollen can cause life-threatening allergic reactions in some people. Nevertheless, Harkin and the promoters of unproven practices wanted the NIH to find the science that would prove the benefits of specific treatments.

    However, the OAM's first director, Dr. Joseph Jacobs, was no lapdog. When the OAM couldn't come up with any good science for any so-called "alternative" treatment, Harkin attacked Jacobs in a public hearing. That was in June 1993. Harkin then "handpicked four alternative-medicine advocates" and had them appointed to the OAM's advisory board (Satel and Taranto: 1996). If real science wasn't going to get results, maybe pseudoscience would.

    Jacobs called the alt med advocates "Harkinites" and they soon attacked Jacobs for trying to set up proper scientific research centers. Such evidence-based research would be "hostile" to CAM, they said. The Harkinites won out. The OAM set up research centers at the University of Minnesota's Center for Addiction and Alternative Medicine Research and at Bastyr University. The Harkinites were so resistant to good science that Jacobs resigned in September 1994. "It's pathetic," he said. "They were so naive about science. I wouldn't trust anything coming out of the OAM as long as the Harkinites are micromanaging it" (Satel and Taranto: 1996). In 1993 the maker of the bee pollen capsules that "cured" Harkin—Royden Brown of the CC Pollen Co.—paid the Federal Trade Commission $200,000 in a consent decree "for making false claims about his product's curative powers" (Satel and Taranto: 1996).

    In 1995 Harkin crony Wayne Jonas, M.D., became director of the OAM. Jonas stayed until 1999. In 1996 Jonas co-authored Healing With Homeopathy: The Complete Guide. Two years later he co-authored Healing With Homeopathy: The Doctor's Guide. To his credit, Jonas wrote that the effectiveness of homeopathy might be due to the placebo effect. Since there aren't any active ingredients in homeopathic remedies, I'd say Jonas made a pretty good guess. I'd also say that it is highly likely that the most important discovery that will emerge from Harkin's efforts is a better understanding of the placebo effect.

    http://www.skepdic.com/NCCAM.html

    Basically, NCCAM is a lobbyist-created agency whose job it is to make "alt medicine" seem respectable. Even so, even with their shady history, they have been unable to show any statistically significant benefits for "Alt Med" treatments in any study or meta-study they've done.

  2. CaptainShuddup


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    2   10:45am Wed 12 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (2)  

    It's like Sushi, it has to be performed by an Asian Martial Arts expert, that barely speaks any English for it work, or in the case of Sushi taste good, and look appealing.
    I mean I certainly don't want Fred Rodgers using me as a human pin cushion.
    But Psu Xin Chao can have her way with me and a box of needles and pins, and I'm sure I would end up never feeling better.

    Hell I might even go for the works, "Ah what the hell, throw a couple of those suction bottles on my back for good measure."

  3. thunderlips11


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    3   10:26am Thu 13 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    CaptainShuddup says

    It's like Sushi, it has to be performed by an Asian Martial Arts expert, that barely speaks any English for it work, or in the case of Sushi taste good, and look appealing.

    That reminds me of the great Cult Film, "The Last Dragon", where the Asian guy is explaining to Bruce Leroy that he doesn't really need to learn the correct form, just to look like he knows how to do it.

  4. MMR


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    4   10:43am Thu 13 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    Acupuncture Versus Venlafaxine for the Management of Vasomotor Symptoms in Patients With Hormone Receptor–Positive Breast Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial

    http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/28/4/634.short

  5. Dan8267


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    5   10:59am Thu 13 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    thunderlips11 says

    Wikipedia is not research

    Best thing said on this site today!

  6. Dan8267


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    6   11:00am Thu 13 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    thunderlips11 says

    "May" and "Possibly" are hedge words that means there were no conclusive results. In Stat 101 I learned that "May" and "Possibly" are usually used in pop-science journalism to generate interest, and usually indicates the findings were weak (ie within the margin of error, or assignable to...)

    "May help" is marketing/legal bullshit that invalidates anything that follows.

  7. thunderlips11


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    7   11:15am Thu 13 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    Dan8267 says

    "May help" is marketing/legal bullshit that invalidates anything that follows.

    Word.

    MMR says

    Acupuncture Versus Venlafaxine for the Management of Vasomotor Symptoms in Patients With Hormone Receptor–Positive Breast Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial

    * Small Sample Size (tiny, actually)
    * Relies on self - reporting ("Severity" of Hot Flashes as measured by patient's "experience", NOT by measuring objective standards like hormone production).

    In other words, the idea they were receiving treatment (esp. if regarded as "Natural" or "Ancient" or "Holistic") probably played a role - placebo effect.

    As another tiny sample size HF/Acupuncture study reports:

    Because early detection and better treatments for breast cancer have decreased mortality rates, the survivorship period has become a new area of research and importance. PCPs and oncologists need a range of options for women who are experiencing distressing HFs as a result of their breast cancer treatment. The evaluation of acupuncture for HFs is limited and ongoing; thus, the evidence base for it is limited, with conflicting results

    http://www.jabfm.org/content/25/3/323.full

    Here's a meta-study that talked about these "Conflicting Results".
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18982444?dopt=Abstract

    In conclusion, the evidence is not convincing to suggest acupuncture is an effective treatment of hot flash in patients with breast cancer.

  8. leo707


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    8   11:20am Thu 13 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)  

    Not only are the claims of acupuncture dubious it actually can cause harm.

    http://www.ncahf.org/pp/acu.html

    "Hazards

    The frequency of complications of acupuncture needling is not known, since no survey has been done. Nevertheless, serious complications occur even in experienced hands and are reported in medical journals. These include fainting, local hematoma (bleeding from punctured blood vessel), pneumothorax (punctured lung), convulsions, local infections, hepatitis B (from unsterile needles), bacterial endocarditis, contact dermatitis, and nerve damage. The herbs used by acupuncture practitioners are not regulated for safety, potency or effectiveness. There is also the risk that a lay acupuncturist will fail to diagnose a dangerous condition."

    That said Electro-acupuncture has been found to be just as effective as "standard" acupuncture. If anyone feels the need to get acupuncture get Electro-acupuncture, and reduce risks to near zero. At the very least if you have a compulsion to get needles stuck into you see someone who is also an MD and has had training in sterilization, anatomy, etc. (no the acupuncture schools don't teach this at the same levels)

  9. Mark D


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    9   11:57am Thu 13 Dec 2012   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

    MMR says

    Acupuncture Versus Venlafaxine for the Management of Vasomotor Symptoms in Patients With Hormone Receptor–Positive Breast Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial

    http://jco.ascopubs.org/content/28/4/634.short

    "Conclusion Acupuncture appears to be equivalent to drug therapy in these patients. It is a safe, effective and durable treatment for vasomotor symptoms secondary to long-term antiestrogen hormone use in patients with breast cancer. "

    unfortunately, facts are often ignored here. youtube videos and internet meme's are the evidence, apparently.

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