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Acupuncture proven effective at treating post-operative nausea; but modern medicine marginalizes true potential of acupuncture Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Acupuncture has proven itself useful yet again in a study conducted in Sydney, Australia that focused on the use of a single acupuncture point, the P6 point, as a point for treating post-operative nausea. The study showed that those who received the acupuncture treatment on their P6 point were 28% less likely to feel nauseous, and 29% less likely to be sick than patients who did not receive the treatment, or who received sham treatments, such as insertion of the needle at the wrong point.

There are a couple of interesting points to note about this study. First, this is yet more evidence that acupuncture is in fact quite useful, not only in treating nausea, but in altering the nature of the mind-body connection in patients. But the really interesting thing about this study is only obvious when you zoom out and look at the big picture here. This was conducted by the insertion of a single needle at a single point. That’s not something that an experienced acupuncture practitioner would typically do. Acupuncture is not so rigid as to be limited to a single insertion at a single point.

When acupuncture is pursued in the traditional way, it is as much a form of art as it is science. An experienced acupuncture practitioner will insert many needles at many points, and will not be controlled by a rigid set of guidelines prescribing a certain set of points. Acupuncture doesn’t work in that way. You can’t say just because a patient has symptoms A, B, and C, therefore you should insert needles at points P5, P6, and so on.

Acupuncture is more intimate than that. There is a relationship between the practitioner and the patient on an energetic level. The practitioner observes and senses the condition of the patient and how they react to the insertion of the first few needles, and then the practitioner modifies their plan accordingly. They may insert as many as 30 needles at different points, and those points would vary from one patient to the next, even if they showed the exact same symptoms. That’s because each patient is unique. Each patient has a different energy system, a different physical makeup, a different posture, a different pattern of energy expression, and so on. There are so many factors involved that it would be impossible to try to quantify them in a rigid, scientific way.

Acupuncture is more than just taking a needle and inserting it at a certain point, and yet, even doing so appears to work quite well in rigid scientific studies. Imagine how much stronger the effect of acupuncture would be if the studies allowed experienced acupuncture practitioners to pursue their art form to its fullest.

There’s another thing that’s worth noting here: until recently, modern medicine was very uncomfortable with the idea of integrating acupuncture at all. In fact, there are still many old school doctors and so-called anti-quackery doctors who still rail against acupuncture, completely unaware of all the scientific evidence proving its efficacy. The Western system of medicine simply isn’t comfortable with the idea that physicians from 5,000 years ago in ancient China knew more about health than doctors do today, and yet this is most certainly the case. Acupuncture is a traditional treatment dating back many thousands of years in China, and if you read the ancient Chinese texts on this subject, as I have, you will find that the doctors of that time in China knew far more about the nature of the human spirit and the human body and how health really operates than most Western doctors do today. In fact, it’s almost laughable to try to compare the knowledge of body wisdom in today’s doctors versus the wisdom of people from 5,000 years ago.

So, for many decades, modern medicine fought the idea that acupuncture could work at all, and once again, there’s still a lot of denial (especially in the minds of older doctors) that acupuncture has any use whatsoever. For the more pioneering doctors in modern organized medicine, they are beginning to accept acupuncture, but only as a complementary therapy.

Notice that in this study, a surgical procedure was performed on patients, and then acupuncture was only allowed to be used to treat that patient’s nausea following the procedure. That use of acupuncture fits very well the current model of how Western medicine views acupuncture. Western medicine thinks that only surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and prescription drugs can do the “real work” of healing, and that acupuncture should only be used to treat secondary symptoms, such as pain or nausea that follow the radical procedures conducted by Western doctors.

This is a rather blatant marginalization of acupuncture, and it is the only way in which modern medicine feels comfortable to discuss acupuncture at all. If they can keep acupuncture trapped in a small box of so-called “approved uses,” they can effectively marginalize this entire field of medicine and continue to rely on their own favorite procedures such as drugs and surgery. But the reality is that acupuncture has far greater potential than this.

Acupuncture can treat patients in ways that can catalyze rapid healing responses. Acupuncture can often take the place of surgery or eliminate the need for prescription drugs. Although can treat a great many health disorders with tremendous success, and this is the truth about acupuncture that makes modern medicine extremely uncomfortable. Any time a complementary therapy begins to encroach upon the territory of more barbaric Western treatments, organized medicine starts to get a bit defensive. They don’t want anything competing with their profit centers, which are, of course, prescription drugs, surgery, chemotherapy, and other such radical treatments.

So the official word that you are likely to hear about acupuncture for many years to come is that yes, it’s fine for treating pain, or reducing nausea, or doing other minor things to help patients, but that if you’re really sick, you should go get surgery, or you should start taking all of these prescription drugs for the rest of your life, or you should get chemotherapy that destroys your immune system.

That’s going to continue to be the message from modern medicine for a while yet, until we get to a real revolution in healing and medicine. And once that revolution gains momentum, you will see acupuncture finally accepted in Western societies as a true healing therapy that has tremendous potential for enhancing the health of patients without dangerous side effects.

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