Re: Poetry in motion (acupuncture)

Wed, 14 Oct 1998 08:56:57 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: Re: Poetry in motion (acupuncture)
Date: Wed, 14 Oct 1998 08:56:57 -0400 (EDT)

Tangentially to the main subject.....

On Tue, 13 Oct 1998 14:48:01 -0400 "Robert G. Grimes"
<> wrote:

> For example, I heard the other day about an example where someone was
> "proving acupuncture meridians" with the use of acupuncture needles and a Pet Scan
> instrument. He was supposedly showing the connection between the ball of the foot and
> the visual centers according to some strange alternate medicine theory and
> demonstrating it with his Pet Scan.

Acupuncture is now more or less sorted out scientifically. The
acupuncture effect is due to endorphin release. The needle is a
sub-pain-threshold noxious stimulus which doesn't produce conscious
pain but is enough to kick the endorphin centres into action.
Acupuncture therefore produces much the same effect as a stiff dose of
intramuscular pethidine.

The supporting evidence for this is quite strong:

a) local anaesthesia of the needle target area abolishes the analgesic
effect (because there is then no stimulus from the needle)
b) administration of naloxane, an endorphin antagonist, abolishes the
analgesic effect (because there is a stimulus but it can't work)
c) acupunctured rabbits have massively elevated endorphin levels
relative to controls (no placebo effect here)

So acupuncture works, but not by 'meridians' or 'chi energy' etc.
Pethidine is cheaper, and produces more or less the same effect.

Ulett et al (1998) Electroacupunture: mechanisms and clinical
applications. Biological Psychiatry 44, 129-138.


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