Angry Doctor

Monday, October 09, 2006

"The Science of Acupuncture"

This excellent article on the topic of scientific studies and clinical trials on acupuncture appeared in the ST today. It is very readable, compared to say this paper which was mentioned in the article.

angry doc wonders if his readers actually read or understand the journal articles he links to; he himself confesses that he cannot understand something like:

But never mind that. What was interesting to angry doc was the author's observation on the difficulties of conducting a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial on acupuncture in China:

Part of the problem in China is choosing the patients to be studied. After all, patients come to hospitals that practice traditional Chinese medicine because they already believe in acupuncture and are likely to be using it to treat another illness. Getting such patients to accept being put into a control group where no acupuncture is applied is almost impossible. This difficulty makes random studies of the effects of acupuncture treatment on stroke patients particularly difficult in a traditional Chinese medicine hospital.

More fundamentally, however, Chinese doctors who use traditional medicine argue that outcome measures of acupuncture as a treatment for stroke should be different from conventional measures used in Western trials, because the theory of acupuncture is different. But no one has yet specified what the appropriate outcome measures for acupuncture should be.

The first paragraph makes perfect sense, but angry doc has difficulty wrapping his brain around the argument in the second paragraph. He blames it on Monday.

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  • Which means, the accupuncturists would like to conduct the trials themselves, with no independent peer review by traditional Western trained biostatisticians. The accupuncturists don't want to do a rigorous statistical analysis because the outcomes by their account, are some nebulous concept of holistic well-being and therefore, not measureable. But neither do they want busybody Western clinicians or statisticians sitting in their clinic and conducting statistically sound, unbiased evaluations of the treatment outcomes. You see the difficulty?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At October 09, 2006 7:46 pm  

  • I doubt that the busybody Western clinicians or statisticians are unbiased. China uses conventional medicine in conjunction with Traditional Chinese Medicine.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At August 03, 2009 5:37 pm  

  • Acupuncture is such a natural and safe way to cure some ills in a painless way. I'm glad to see that many people have a benefit of this ancestral technique.

    By Anonymous viagra online, At July 15, 2010 2:35 am  

  • Acupuncturists categorize diseases differently than their "western" counterparts. For example, there are 5 disease patterns I can think of off the top of my head that will cause what is known to the west as a "migraine headache." From an acupuncture point of view, the diseases are all totally different and therefore the treatments are also different - even though they all include the chief symptom of "migraine headache." Therefore, when devising a clinical trial, the efficacy of acupuncture can only be accurately measured if the test subjects share an "acupuncture diagnosis." Simply using the migraine to determine eligibility will necessarily result in lower efficacy of acupuncture.

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