Acupuncture Effective Painkiller or is it Just a Placebo?

Acupuncture Effective Painkiller or Just Placebo: German University Research. Can acupuncture really relieve pain? The result from a recent study by a research team from the University Hospital in Essen, Germany suggests that it does.

More details on the study, which looked into whether acupuncture affects how the brain reacts to electric shocks, from a Reuters report:

Eighteen volunteers underwent sophisticated brain scans at the same time as an electric shock was applied to their left ankle.

Acupuncture needles were then placed at three places on the right side – between the toes, below the knee and near the thumb – and the electric current switched back on.

A second set of brain scans showed noticeably less activity in the brain’s pain regions.

Says researcher Dr Nina Theysohn about their findings: ‘Activation of brain areas involved in pain perception was significantly reduced or modulated under acupuncture.’

Acupuncture is a medical treatment method which has been used in China for centuries. It is becoming popular in the West and its new adherents swear by its effectiveness.

However, critics of the method scoff at the idea that sticking needles into specific body parts can treat bad backs, sprained ankles and other pains.

These critics suggest that patients who get well through acupuncture are just benefiting from a placebo effect.

For instance, David Colquhoun, professor of pharmacology at University College London, remain sceptical of the Essen study and suggests that those who took part “may simply have expected the technique to work”.

Adds the Professor: ‘Studies like this are a waste of money. Anything that doesn’t measure actual pain in patients is utterly irrelevant.’

According to Reuters, an earlier study confirms the effectiveness of acupuncture as a painkiller.

For a news report related to this topic, check out our previous entry, How Does Acupuncture Work.

For our other posts on non-traditional Western medicine, check out hyperbaric therapy and Yoga Treats Fibromyalgia pain.

Acupuncture Effective Painkiller or Just Placebo: German University Research. Posted 2 January 2011.

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