What Can Acupuncture & East Asian medicine treat?

Acupuncture and East Asian medicine has been used for thousands of years to treat a wide variety of conditions affecting virtually any part of the body. Though qualified to treat a wide variety of conditions, Debbie’s interests include:

Other Conditions: The World Health Organization (WHO) lists many diseases, symptoms, or conditions for which acupuncture has been proven through controlled trials to be an effective treatment. More information can be found at their website.

Acupuncture and East Asian Medicine Meet Scientific Studies

“Acupuncture for Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (NIH)”:  Here is a well-written systemic review of a common and costly digestive disorder, IBS, first published in the Cochrane Database. It discusses the lack of options for patients with IBS, and the efficacy and safety of acupuncture in treating IBS.

The review included studies that compared acupuncture to sham, acupuncture to pharmacological therapies, and acupuncture to psychotherapy. It also included studies that compared acupuncture in combination with psychotherapy versus psychotherapy alone, and in combination with another Chinese medicine therapy versus that Chinese medicine therapy alone.

Though specific to IBS, the core of the review can be applied to the whole of acupuncture and East Asian medicine. It highlights the medicine’s place in today’s scientific studies within the context of the gold standard methodology, randomized control trials.

It reviews the biases associated with the studies, such as the effect of sham acupuncture, and how valid it is as true inert placebo. The review also discussed the adequacy of acupuncture used in these studies. As Chinese medicine is based on an individualized treatment, this makes it difficult to control. It is important to note what acupuncture points were used, the amount of stimulation used, the needle retention time, the frequency of treatments, and whether the one performing acupuncture was a qualified practitioner.

With so many emerging studies of the benefits of acupuncture in the news – some positive, some negative, some “inconclusive,” it is important to be a little skeptical, and educate yourself on the methodology of the study!