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Acupuncture comes of age - in the West!

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS. Dr. Ted Kaptchuk of the Harvard Medical School provides an excellent overview of the current status of acupuncture in the United States. The first use of acupuncture took place in China during the Stone Age. The technique has been slowly accepted by the western medical establishment and is now practiced by over 3,000 medical doctors and almost 11,000 non-physician acupuncturists in the USA alone. Strictly controlled clinical trials have provided overwhelming evidence that acupuncture is effective in preventing postoperative vomiting, nausea and dental pain. Some studies have shown effectiveness in the treatment of other types of pain, but the evidence is less convincing. Dr. Kaptchuk ingeniously compares a diagnosis in Traditional Chinese Medicine to an "internal weather report". Such terms as "excessive dampness", "heat", "warm", "dry", etc. are used to describe a patient's unique "climate". This climate can be adjusted by inserting fine needles in one or more of the 2000 known acupuncture points. That the insertion of acupuncture needles can have a profound effect was recently demonstrated in a functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Inserting a needle at a certain point of the foot (traditionally related to vision) activated an occipital lobe (brain) region which was exactly the same region activated by stimulation of the eye using direct light. Dr. Kaptchuk concludes that acupuncture has discernible treatment effects despite the fact that western medicine, so far, has been unable to explain its mode of action. [113 references]
Kaptchuk, Ted J. Acupuncture: theory, efficacy, and practice. Annals of Internal Medicine, Vol. 136, March 5, 2002, pp. 374-83

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