Placebo Effect Big Contributor in Acupuncture
China- Hong Kong | Oct 13 2012 | (23:07:13 - EDT)
A recent NCCAM-funded study, employing individual patient data meta-analyses published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, provides the most rigorous evidence to date that acupuncture may be helpful for chronic pain. In addition, results from the study provide robust evidence that the effects of acupuncture on pain are attributable to two components.
The larger component includes factors such as the patient’s belief that treatment will be effective, as well as placebo and other context effects. A smaller acupuncture-specific component involves such issues as the locations of specific needling points or depth of needling.
For those who are not familiar with this ancient medicinal practice, acupuncture is a Chinese medical practice or procedure that treats illness or provides local anesthesia by the insertion of needles into specified parts of the body. It is thought to correct the imbalances in the qi flow, through channels called meridians. One of the hardest parts in conducting experiments with acupuncture to get a scope of how well this alternative medical practice works is controlling an individual’s placebo effect.
Although millions of Americans use acupuncture each year, often for chronic pain, there has been considerable controversy surrounding its value as a therapy and whether it is anything more than an elaborate placebo. Research exploring a number of possible mechanisms for acupuncture’s pain-relieving effects is ongoing.
Vickers AJ, Cronin AM, Maschino A, et al. Acupuncture for chronic pain: a meta-analysis. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2012.
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