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566 thoughts on “Acupuncture Doesn’t Work

  1. Badly Shaved Monkey says:

    Oh, and Jenny. If naturopathy was right your acupuncturist would be out of a job. And vice versa.

    Thinking things through to their logical conclusions has never been a strong suit for SCAM fans.

    In case you hadn’t noticed, of all these types of woo, each claims to be a panacea. Your wonderful naturopath’s homeopathy should have fixed you long ago. Funny thing is that you now give no credence to conventional medicine but are all aquiver in adoration of your wonky homeopath and Mr Needles.

    Of naturopaths? What WLU said.

  2. Badly Shaved Monkey says:

    Oh, and Jenny. If naturopathy was right your acupuncturist would be out of a job. And vice versa.

    Thinking things through to their logical conclusions has never been a strong suit for SCAM fans.

    In case you hadn’t noticed, of all these types of woo, each claims to be a panacea. Your wonderful naturopath’s homeopathy should have fixed you long ago. Funny thing is that you now give no credence to conventional medicine but are all aquiver in adoration of your wonky homeopath and Mr Needles.

    Of naturopaths? What WLU said.

    [This may be a duplicate. Having problems with posting]

  3. Jenny says:

    I figured it out…need to remove my email to stop getting comments from this blog. Ok. Will do that now. By the way….are you under the impression that one practitioner is the panacea for everything? I’m not! My naturopathic doctor was THE biggest help after my hospital stay. I had never tried accupuncture for pain during that time. I know what I should eat. When I don’t , and get pain, (recently) I tried accupuncture. But you jerks ( I now use that word as your writings have been very ego driven) seem to think that they don’t work. Guess what: medical intervention ( your idea of medical intervention) didn’t work one bit. Naturopathic did. Oh, guess what: the amount of hours/training required to become a naturopathic doctor? Rigorous….how many hours/training do you get about prevention? Blessed little. I think this forum is as biased as one that claims that alternative health care works for everything.

    1. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      The alternative would be learning something or changing your mind, you could try that instead of unsubscribing your e-mail.

      It’s not your ND that is the problem, it’s the entire illogical and unfounded edifice of naturopathic medicine that is the problem. Individually, NDs can probably do a great job of helping the worried well worry less, or in your case suggest more detailed options for symptom relief (you should tell your doctor about congee by the way, having specific suggestions can be helpful). Collectively, a few of those idiots think they can cure cancer leading people to die of untreated cancer. Oh, and they oppose vaccination. Which strikes me as more than a little preventive, and also a mainstream medical necessity (opposed, by the way, by naturopaths).

      “Naturopaths” didn’t work – you started eating rice oatmeal, which is a perfectly mainstream suggestion (which, again, you should tell your doctor about).

      Doctors get lots of training about prevention by the way. Their education in nutrition is stitched throughout their training (they learn exactly which biochemical pathways involve exactly which nutrients for instance). They understand the importance of adequate exercise and proper diet. They advise their patients to not smoke. They provide vaccinations as part of routine care. Realistically, what else should they do? Make up a whole bunch of expensive and unproven magical claims based on test tube and rat studies and pretend they will keep you healthy forever? Follow patients around and nag them like yo’ mama? Pretend there is some way to prevent all illness and death? Pretend morbidity and mortality is somehow nonrandom?

      Are you absolutely sure you know how much training in prevention MDs have, or are you just repeating what your naturopath told you?

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      I missed the panacea part. Doctors don’t think they are a panacea, they recognize they have limitations (which is why they refer to specialists). They are also routinely confronted with their limitations, in the form of patient deaths. That’s because they treat genuinely sick people (as in, those with deadly diseases but also not merely the worried well). Unlike a naturopath, who treats primarily those with mild, self-limiting conditions, doctors have to watch people die of cancer, or bullets, or measles. They don’t have someone to rely on to treat real disease, unlike CAM providers (relative to which they are like paint on a car – they get to look good, while someone else does all the real work). Doctors are also confronted by their failings and need to improve in the medical literature, and their continuing education requirements. Even during training they are explicitly told “you will have to relearn much of this, because you must change your practice as more evidence becomes available”.

      Contrast that with naturopaths, who haven’t abandoned a methodology, ever. Still using homeopathy? Check! Still using acupuncture? Check! Still recommending chiropractic? Check! Still recommending echinacea, black cohosh and gingo biloba despite numerous well-designed trials showing them to be worthless? That’s a big ol’ check, and you can buy all of these supplements right here in my office, thank you very much! Which isn’t a conflict of interest at all!

    3. weing says:

      “But you jerks ( I now use that word as your writings have been very ego driven) seem to think that they don’t work.”

      It’s not what we think. It’s what the studies show, or don’t show.

      “Oh, guess what: the amount of hours/training required to become a naturopathic doctor?”

      Who cares how much time they spent at Hogwarts memorizing spells and mumbo-jumbo? Well, I guess you do.

  4. I’m sorry you feel that way Jenny. Certainly coming around here you will find little beyond what is a statement of fact, with little sugar coating. If you value actual facts and not pleasantries then that should be refreshing and ultimately useful. If not, then you are indeed free to leave us and continue as you were. Hopefully, however, a bit of a seed has been planted that will make you question things down the line. Right now, it seems pretty airtight to you and that is reasonably understandable. But one thing is certain – that will not hold true for naturopathy and acupuncture. Just try and be more aware of whether things are actually working for you. Keep a journal of your experiences and revisit it later on down the line. You may be surprised at the results.

    As for preventative health – we get more education in just that topic that naturopaths get for their entire post-graduate education combined. Preventative medicine is a huge topic with requirements for ongoing education in it during all of residency combined. And my particular program has a huge component of it in medical school as well. In addition, our licensing exams (“the boars”) stress preventative medicine and lifestyle interventions. I would fail my licensing exams if I didn’t know how to properly apply preventative health statistics and properly advise patients on diet, lifestyle, and other non-pharmaceutical interventions for their health problems. In fact, a lot of our education and board exams hinge on recognizing when not to give drugs or other serious interventions (yes, we view drugs as serious). We have criteria for when a person’s condition puts them at enough risk that we must skip the lifestyle interventions and go straight to drugs, but those are serious conditions and we encourage lifestyle changes at the same time in the hope of obviating the continued need for drugs.

    It is PR propaganda and myth that actual medical doctors don’t learn and don’t use such lifestyle interventions and preventative health measures. Of course, this is sadly reinforced by the small contingent of physicians who are not very good or are lazy and actually do just peddle around drugs. But we criticize them ourselves and that does not validate the pseudoscientific claims of naturopaths or any other so-called alternative medicine practitioners.

  5. Badly Shaved Monkey says:

    By the way….are you under the impression that one practitioner is the panacea for everything?

    Panacea is an abstract concept so, no, a practitioner is not going to be a panacea.

    However, each of your therapists sells a system that claims to be able to solve every medical problem. Their practices are mutually contradictory, but that doesn’t stop them.

    Real medicine makes no such claims because real diseases are hard and real medicine tries to be honest, and that is why we have a real problem with selling placebos.

    Jenny, you have progressively unveiled yourself as a broadly based consumer of woo, so your stubborn refusal to engage with the issues is not surprising. You have simply failed to address any of the detailed and polite critical commentaries that have been posted as responses to your testimonials. It’s not that we don’t ‘get’ where you’re coming from. We do. It’s just that you are wrong. You are not lying (well, at least I hope you are not) about how you feel, but you are wrong about what inferences you should draw from those feelings. We are all prey to the same cognitive biases, but you have rejected the tools for handling them.

    I’ve said it before, I’m saying it again, “You can lead a woo to wisdom, but you can’t make them think.”

  6. Badly Shaved Monkey says:

    [Another possible duplicate. Sorry]

    By the way….are you under the impression that one practitioner is the panacea for everything?

    Panacea is an abstract concept so, no, a practitioner is not going to be a panacea.

    However, each of your therapists sells a system that claims to be able to solve every medical problem. Their practices are mutually contradictory, but that doesn’t stop them.

    Real medicine makes no such claims because real diseases are hard and real medicine tries to be honest, and that is why we have a real problem with selling placebos.

    Jenny, you have progressively unveiled yourself as a broadly based consumer of woo, so your stubborn refusal to engage with the issues is not surprising. You have simply failed to address any of the detailed and polite critical commentaries that have been posted as responses to your testimonials. It’s not that we don’t ‘get’ where you’re coming from. We do. It’s just that you are wrong. You are not lying (well, at least I hope you are not) about how you feel, but you are wrong about what inferences you should draw from those feelings. We are all prey to the same cognitive biases, but you have rejected the tools for handling them.

    I’ve said it before, I’m saying it again, “You can lead a woo to wisdom, but you can’t make them think.”

  7. pmoran2013 says:

    Not sure if this went through

    Andrey: “But the moment someone – and you best believe some sCAMster will – looks just a bit more deeply and then rightfully calls us out for being soft on one type of CAM but hard on another what is our response?”

    If you had thought all this through to the extent that I have you would already know the answer to that. On the one hand we will be addressing subjective outcomes, which are subject to myriads of different influences, have little relevance to life and limb if used alongside mainstream care, and which are very difficult to validate or invalidate even within the most sophisticated of clinical studies. We are therefore able (or obliged?) to give some benefit of the doubt.

    On the other hand we will be talking about claims of objective benefit in serious disease states. These should be easy for the claimant to measure, and to demonstrate in simple ways, as well as placing a heavier onus on the claimant..

  8. Badly Shaved Monkey says:

    “Naturopaths” didn’t work – you started eating rice oatmeal, which is a perfectly mainstream suggestion (which, again, you should tell your doctor about).

    I believe I did mention previously the problems of uncontrolled testimonial and the fact that we don’t know what other changes Jenny made to her routine. Now it seems she has a food strategy as well. But she credits the needles with performing a miracle. But then she seems to have lost the plot in telling us how excellent has been her naturopath, which should have obviated the need for needles. The U-turns could cause whiplash. She might need a chiropractor. But, she has one of those as well.

    It’s no wonder that ‘crank’ is used as a pejorative term to describe believers in fringe medicine; you keep turning them and money pops out.

    It’s not worth getting into all the details, but Jenny has provided a nice demonstration of the kind if selective recall that we have been going on about. All the while she claims others, but not she, are biased. Logical inconsistency and internal contradiction are two more hallmarks of the world of SCAM.

  9. london says:

    There are many studies that confirm that accupuncture does work. I know that so-called western medicine works. And sometimes, for some people, it doesn’t. I am assuming that accupuncture doesn’t work for all people either….

    1. weing says:

      “There are many studies that confirm that accupuncture does work.”

      I am sure there are. As a matter of fact, I know there are. Do you know how to evaluate studies? How to tell whether they are any good, reliable, etc? How much trust to put into them? Magical spells work on some people, just like acupuncture. Guns and bullets are real, they work on everyone. Doesn’t matter if you believe in them or not. They can save you if used properly or they can kill you.

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      The percentage of confirmatory studies drops off considerably once a reasonable control for skin penetration was developed (retracting needles, though even toothpicks will work). Also, the quality of the study should be assessed. What does it mean to you when acupuncture is more effective if patients knew they were getting verum rather than sham, but if patients didn’t know, the results for both groups were the same?

      This is why systematic reviews and meta-analyses are important, they are a structured way of reviewing studies and aggregating them, while accounting for their quality. They tend to be negative.

  10. If you had thought all this through to the extent that I have you would already know the answer to that.

    Well, let me bow down to your amazing level of insight and thought. Which you can’t seem to adequately demonstrate. And which doesn’t convince most others around these parts. But hey, at least you know you’ve thought it out.

    Sorry that this snark is all I have time for. I have just officially begun my week holiday after completing exams and submitting all my materials for post-graduate training. So I will actually enjoy friends, food, and the outdoors for a while.

    In the meantime, enjoy your amazing level of self confidence. I’ll try and respond if I can at some point.

    1. pmoran2013 says:

      Andrey, that was hardly called for. My breakdown of CAM into very dissimilar elements was obviously a novel line of thought for you, also not one that you are likely to have encountered anywhere previously. So yes, I have given it a lot more thought than you.

  11. You would be surprised at how often a patient appreciates being told the blunt truth. It must be diplomatic, non-judgmental and given with the sole purpose of helping the patient.

    I have actually been a bit surprised by this as my role in patient care expands. In my two months in the ICU especially I found myself surprised and then comfortable stating how grim circumstances were. I now find that everyone involved appreciates it when I speak in no uncertain terms about how grim a prognosis is and make it clear that our immediate goal is to get through the current situation on a day-by-day basis to hopefully deal with the underlying issue, which is itself grim (I still do consults in the ICU as well). Being blunt and plainly honest – which in my case includes the not-too-infrequent “I don’t know” – is very greatly appreciated.

    1. windriven says:

      “Being blunt and plainly honest – which in my case includes the not-too-infrequent “I don’t know” – is very greatly appreciated.”

      Bad news, like fresh fish, doesn’t get better with age. The people who surprise me are those who don’t want the truth.

  12. JM says:

    This is NOTHING but self-rightous drivel. Pill popping…. now THAT’S a treatment! GET BENT!

    1. weing says:

      @JM,

      Very intelligent comment. It shows uncommon perspicacity. You might try the placebo equivalent I mentioned before. It’s a lot safer than acupuncture. You’ll feel a lot better after it.

    2. WilliamLawrenceUtridge says:

      Self-righteous drivel is right. Are we talking about your comment?

      No, I suppose you’re right, death by vaccine-preventable disease or cancer is better. I suggest you go with your choice. Live (or die) by your convictions.

  13. Sorry Peter, I certainly could have qualified it a bit more. But how about this – I’ve thought of CAM in ways you have never thought of before. Because I have a de facto degree in it. I believed in it. I was taught it, in a wholly credulous manner, at a university known for its scientific stature. In fact, it was specifically known as the “boring” school because there were no parties, no sports, and the Greek life was abysmal. What it was known for was that we had 5 Nobel Laureates as teaching professors in buildings named after them. And here I was, being taught that “evil reductionism” was the bane of medical care, that Reiki, homeopathy, ayurveda, TCM, were wholly legitimate forms of medical care. That they had intrinsic and direct efficacy. That “Western medicine” was great at acute problems, but terrible at chronic health issues. And that “scientists” and “dogmatic medical doctors” maligned CAM purely because of encroachment on our “turf” and that we really were schysters and the CAM folk would one day stop being suppressed. And then fast forward to medical school where I have lectures from the head of “integrative medicine” who tells us that personality predisposes us to certain cancers and is a prognostic indicator for efficacy of chemo and outcomes in general.

    So forgive me if I am perhaps a little more acutely aware of what giving the soft shoulder to CAM leads to. And that I staunchly believe that reality and full disclosure are paramount. Because when people “play nice” with some CAM, it really actually does come back to bite you in the ass and undermine the hard won gains of science and scientific medicine. It is exactly the people like you that I run into – uncommonly, thankfully – that allow for such ridiculous transgressions to occur, resources to be wasted, and harm to occur.

    So yeah, I’m going to get a little indignant with you. But at least I am doing so within the realm of science, reason, and empathy instead of the childish rants you’ve given me flaunting your status over mine as a mere medical student.

    And in the meantime I am still generally enjoying my holiday and I believe it is time for me to go downstairs to the dock, grab a beer, and sit with the fishing pole to watch the sun set.

  14. I’m sure there’s an acceptable range of thickness. I was just commenting that, when someone makes it thin and soup-like I notice a lot of people turn their nose up at it, it gets called “old man congee”. That said, as I’m always reminding folks China is a big place and hardly homogeneous. What is acceptable in one area and be revolting in another. Most of my relatives are from HK – which is a subculture even among Cantonese speakers.

  15. Van says:

    I can not speak to the healing and efficacy of Acupuncture except from personal experience and that of a friend. Both of us are older than 60 but in reasonably good health

    . Both suffered by debilitating lower back pain and traumatic injury of some sort which pain, muscle relaxers and other traditional medications offered by stellar internists and neurosurgeons but which in spite of substantial dosages and alternative drug versions generated no improvements. In both our situations – such that we each scheduled back surgery.

    But, we turned to acupuncture as a last effort to avoid a surgical remedy which itself proved for many friends and acquaintances over the years as inadequate -and more frequently than I anticipated one which itself often required additional surgery,regular therapy and continued discomfort, if not significant ongoing pain

    . In each of our cases, we avoided significant hospital, doctor and therapy costs. I doubt either of us truly understands the Null Hypothesis or believes our substandard existence and intelligence would in any perceived scientific truism satisfy or fail the Null Hypothesis.

    Notwithstanding, acupuncture worked for each of us to remedy our failing backs– not just the pain. Of course, we should do more “core strengthening” exercises in order to continue with our good fortune. So, I think in the right set of circumstances it can supplant Western medicine as a better alternative.

    At this point, I can also say that I have witnessed close at hand a number of friends, relatives, and others who have suffered from various forms of cancer. Over the last 30 years, I have regularly contributed to the “cure of cancer”. And while the profession has made great strides in effectively dealing with prostrate and breast cancer, the elusive cure remains in larger part just that,…elusive. And it grieved me to see Baylor University’s Medical Center here in Dallas just finish constructing the new Harold Simmons Cancer Hospital. It seemed as stunning defeat from my and many others 30 years of contributions.

    I have also seen and discussed with many physicians how the accepted approach or treatment of certain diseases and maladies have suddenly changes. And what was the “required” approach and treatment turned itself on its head. So, your points, although well stated and researched, seemed just a tad too self righteous, particularly in light of how the Null Hypothesis has disproved many world class doctors even above your own superb credentials in confronting cancer. And in many instances, the treatment proved as life threatening as the disease itself.

    At last, I must make a final comment and ask a question– since this is the first time for my doing so in this type of venue- I will always be heartened by Dr. Jonas Salk who developed the modern day cure for polio (in 1952) and gave it to society, not retaining any patent or revenue retained rights. How incredibly wonderful. ,in today’s world or modern Westernized Medicine, with IPO and IPO and doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, big and little Pharma all wanting their “share” of the pie, will we ever expect such a marvelous gesture to repeat itself. No doubt, the Null Hypothesis will soon greatly reward you.

    As for my question: Are there any scientific studies, trial or experimental treatments using acupuncture with respect to infant children (less than one year old) who likely suffer from some as yet un-diagnosed brain damage that show some promise or results: e.g. help in reducing severity of cerebral palsy, increase brain activity, improve child[s life or health (smiles more– sense of more contentment etc.) that you can think of or refer me to individual doctors, associations, schools, etc. I suspect this very question may be upsetting to you– but forgive my curiosity and even hope that such might exist.. Cheers… Run On, Run On.

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