Does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture is often recommended on the grounds that it is an ancient Chinese art that readjusts energy meridians in the body. Millions of people are using it, and millions are being spent on it every year. But real medical effects cannot be ascertained by word of mouth, centuries of tradition, or by popularity. What’s needed is substantial, objective evidence from carefully constructed, double-blind clinical trials.
The preliminary indications from a recent study from the NIH are positive. In a study of several hundred patients with arthritic knees at the University of Maryland, it was found that the acupuncture study group had less pain and better knee function after 6 months.
Most clinicians do not take the energy meridian claims seriously, but they have postulated that the effects that have been measured may be connected to the release of endorphins and hormones stimulated by the puncture of the skin by acupuncture needles.
Experts warn, however, that patients should not adopt unproven alternative therapies and forego better treatments, and patients should inform their doctors about any alternative therapies they are pursuing to better insure their safety if they receive additional treatments.
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