Chinese Medicine Essay Research Paper Acupuncture Qigong

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Acupuncture, Qigong, and & # 8220 ; Chinese Medicine & # 8221 ;

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

& # 8220 ; Chinese medical specialty, & # 8221 ; frequently called & # 8220 ; Oriental medical specialty & # 8221 ; or & # 8220 ; traditional Chinese medical specialty ( TCM ) , & # 8221 ; encompasses a huge array of common people medical patterns based on mysticism. It holds that the organic structure & # 8217 ; s critical energy ( chi or chi ) circulates through 14 channels, called acmes, that have subdivisions connected to bodily variety meats and maps. Illness is attributed to imbalance or break of chi.. Ancient patterns such as stylostixis and Qigong are claimed to reconstruct balance.

Traditional stylostixis, as now practiced, involves the interpolation of chromium steel steel acerate leafs into assorted organic structure countries. A

low-frequency current may be applied to the acerate leafs to bring forth greater stimulation. Other processs used individually or together with acupuncture include: moxibustion ( combustion of floss or herbs applied to the tegument ) ; injection of unfertile H2O, Ethocaine, morphia, vitamins, or homeopathic solutions through the inserted acerate leafs ; applications of optical maser beams ( laserpuncture ) ; arrangement of acerate leafs in the external ear ( auriculotherapy ) ; and G-Jo ( usage of manual force per unit area ) .

Treatment is applied to & # 8220 ; stylostixis points, & # 8221 ; which are said to be located throughout the organic structure. Originally there were 365 such points, matching to the yearss of the twelvemonth, but the figure identified by advocates during the past 2,000 old ages has increased bit by bit to about 2,000 [ 1 ] . Some practicians place acerate leafs at or near the site of disease, whereas others select points on the footing of symptoms. In traditional stylostixis, a combination of points is normally used.

Qigong is besides claimed to act upon the flow of & # 8220 ; critical energy. & # 8221 ; Internal Qigong involves deep external respiration, concentration, and relaxation techniques used by persons for themselves. External Qigong is performed by & # 8220 ; Qigong masters & # 8221 ; who claim to bring around a broad assortment of diseases with energy released from their fingertips. However, scientific research workers of Qigong Masterss in China have found no grounds of extrasensory powers and some grounds of misrepresentation. They found, for illustration, that a patient prevarication on a tabular array about eight pess from a Qigong maestro moved rhythmically or thrashed about as the maestro moved his custodies.

But when she was placed so that she could no longer see him, her motions were unrelated to his [ 2 ] . Falun tam-tam, which China late banned, is a Qigong varient claimed to be & # 8220 ; a powerful mechanism for mending, stress alleviation and wellness improvements. & # 8221 ;

Most acupuncturists espouse the traditional Chinese position of wellness and disease and see stylostixis, herbal medical specialty, and related patterns to be valid attacks to the full gamut of disease. Others reject the traditional attack and simply claim that stylostixis offers a simple manner to accomplish hurting alleviation. The diagnostic procedure used by TCM practicians may include oppugning ( medical history, life style ) , observations ( tegument, lingua, colour ) , listening ( take a breathing sounds ) , and pulse-taking. Six pulse facets said to correlate with organic structure variety meats or maps are checked on each carpus to find which acmes are & # 8220 ; deficient & # 8221 ; in qi. ( Medical scientific discipline recognizes merely one pulsation, matching to the pulse, which can be felt in the carpus, cervix, pess, and assorted other topographic points. ) Some acupuncturists province that the electrical belongingss of the organic structure may go unbalanced hebdomads or even months before symptoms occur. These practicians claim that stylostixis can be used to handle conditions when the patient merely & # 8220 ; doesn & # 8217 ; t experience right, & # 8221 ; even though no disease is evident.

TCM ( every bit good as the common people medical patterns of assorted other Asiatic states ) is a menace to certain carnal species. For illustration, black bears & # 8212 ; valued for their saddle sore vesicas & # 8212 ; have been hunted about to extinction in Asia, and poaching of black bears is a turning job in North America.

Doubtful Claims

The conditions claimed to react to acupuncture include chronic hurting ( cervix and back hurting, megrim concerns ) , acute injury-related hurting ( strains, musculus and ligament cryings ) , GI jobs ( dyspepsia, ulcers, irregularity, diarrhoea ) , cardiovascular conditions ( high and low blood force per unit area ) , GU jobs ( catamenial abnormality, frigidness, powerlessness ) , musculus and nervus conditions ( palsy, hearing loss ) , and behavioural jobs ( gorging, drug dependance, smoking ) . However, the grounds back uping these claims consists largely of practicians & # 8217 ; observations and ill designed surveies. A controlled survey found that electroacupuncture of the ear was no more effectual than placebo stimulation ( light touching ) against chronic hurting [ 3 ] . In 1990, three Dutch epidemiologists analyzed 51 controlled surveies of stylostixis for chronic hurting and concluded that & # 8220 ; the quality of even the better surveies proved to be second-rate. . . . The efficaciousness of stylostixis in the intervention of chronic hurting remains doubtful. & # 8221 ; [ 4 ] They besides examined studies of stylostixis used to handle dependences to coffin nails, diacetylmorphine,

and intoxicant, and concluded that claims that stylostixis is effectual as a therapy for these conditions are non supported by sound clinical research [ 5 ] .

Acupuncture anaesthesia is non used for surgery in the Orient to the extent that its advocates suggest. In China doctors screen out patients who appear to be unsuitable. Acupuncture is non used for exigency surgery and frequently is accompanied by local anaesthesia or narcotic medicine.

How stylostixis may alleviate hurting is ill-defined. One theory suggests that hurting urges are blocked from making the spinal cord or encephalon at assorted & # 8220 ; gates & # 8221 ; to these countries. Another theory suggests that stylostixis stimulates the organic structure to bring forth narcotic-like substances called endorphins, which cut down hurting. Other theories suggest that the placebo consequence, external suggestion ( hypnosis ) , and cultural conditioning are of import factors. Melzack and Wall note that hurting alleviation produced by stylostixis can besides be produced by many other types of centripetal hyperstimulation, such as electricity and heat at stylostixis points and elsewhere in the organic structure. They conclude that & # 8220 ; the effectivity of all of these signifiers of stimulation indicates that stylostixis is non a charming process but merely one of many ways to bring forth analgesia [ hurting alleviation ] by an intense sensory input. & # 8221 ; In 1981, the American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs noted that hurting alleviation does non happen systematically or reproducibly in most people and does non run at all in some people [ 6 ] .

In 1995, George A. Ulett, M.D. , Ph.D. , Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of Missouri School of Medicine, stated that & # 8220 ; devoid of metaphysical thought, stylostixis becomes a instead simple technique that can be utile as a nondrug method of hurting control. & # 8221 ; He believes that the traditional Chinese assortment is chiefly a placebo intervention, but electrical stimulation of about 80 stylostixis points has been proven utile for hurting control [ 7 ] .

The quality of TCM research in China has been highly hapless. A recent analysis of 2,938 studies of clinical tests reported in Chinese medical diaries concluded that that no decisions could be drawn from the huge bulk of them. The research workers stated:

In most of the tests, disease was defined and diagnosed harmonizing to conventional medical specialty ; test results were

assessed with nonsubjective or subjective ( or both ) methods of conventional medical specialty, frequently complemented by

traditional Chinese methods. Over 90 % of the tests in non-specialist diaries evaluated herbal interventions that

were largely proprietary Chinese medical specialties. . . .

Although methodological quality has been bettering over the old ages, many jobs remain. The method of

randomization was frequently unsuitably described. Blinding was used in merely 15 % of tests. Merely a few surveies

had sample sizes of 300 topics or more. Many tests used as a control another Chinese medical specialty intervention

whose effectivity had frequently non been evaluated by randomised controlled tests. Most tests focused on short

term or intermediate instead than long term outcomes. Most tests did non describe informations on conformity and

completeness of follow up. Effectiveness was seldom quantitatively expressed and reported. Purpose to handle

analysis was ne’er mentioned. Over half did non describe informations on baseline features or on side effects. Many

tests were published as short studies. Most tests claimed that the tried interventions were effectual, bespeaking that

publication prejudice may be common ; a funnel secret plan of the 49 tests of stylostixis in the intervention of shot confirmed selective publication of positive tests in the country, proposing that stylostixis may non be more effectual than the control interventions. [ 8 ]

Two scientists at the University of Heidleberg have developed a & # 8220 ; forge needle & # 8221 ; that may enable stylostixis research workers to execute better-designed controlled surveies. The device is a needle with a blunt tip that moves freely within a Cu grip. When the tip touches the tegument, the patient feels a esthesis similar to that of an stylostixis acerate leaf. At the same clip, the seeable portion of the needle moves inside the grip so it appears to shorten as though perforating the tegument. When the device was tested on voluntaries, none suspected that it had non penetrated the tegument [ 9 ] .

Significant Hazards

Improperly performed stylostixis can do fainting, local haematoma ( due to shed blooding from a pierced blood vas ) , pneumothorax ( pierced lung ) , paroxysms, local infections, hepatitis B ( from unsterile acerate leafs ) , bacterial endocarditis, contact dermatitis, and nervus harm. The herbs used by stylostixis practicians are non regulated for safety, authority, or effectiveness. There is besides hazard that an acupuncturist whose attack to diagnosing is non based on scientific constructs will neglect to name a unsafe status.

The inauspicious effects of stylostixis are likely related to the nature of the practician & # 8217 ; s preparation. A study of 1,135

Norse doctors revealed 66 instances of infection, 25 instances of pierced lung, 31 instances of increased hurting, and 80 other instances with complications. A parallel study of 197 acupuncturists, who are more disposed to see immediate complications, yielded 132 instances of fai

nting, 26 instances of increased hurting, 8 instances of pneumothorax, and 45 other inauspicious consequences [ 10 ] . However, a 5-year survey affecting 76 acupuncturists at a Nipponese medical installation tabulated merely 64 inauspicious event studies ( including 16 disregarded acerate leafs and 13 instances of transient low blood force per unit area ) associated with 55,591 stylostixis interventions. No serious complications were reported.The research workers concluded that serious inauspicious reactions are uncommon among acupuncturists who are medically trained [ 11 ] .

Questionable Standards

In 1971, an stylostixis roar occurred in the United States because of narratives about visits to China by assorted American very important persons. Entrepreneurs, both medical and nonmedical, began utilizing showy advertisement techniques to advance clinics, seminars, presentations, books, correspondence classs, and do-it-yourself kits. Today some provinces restrict the pattern of stylostixis to doctors or others runing under their direct supervising. In about 20 provinces, people who lack medical preparation can execute stylostixis without medical supervising. The FDA now classifies stylostixis acerate leafs as Class II medical devices and requires labeling for erstwhile usage by practicians who are lawfully authorized to utilize them [ 12 ] . Acupuncture is non covered under Medicare. The March 1998 issue of the Journal of the American Chiropractic Association carried a five-part screen narrative encouraging chiropractors to acquire acupuncture preparation, which, harmonizing to one subscriber, would enable them to broaden the range of their pattern [ 13 ] .

The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine ( NCCAOM ) has set voluntary enfranchisement criterions and certified several thousand practicians. As of November 1998, 32 provinces have licencing Torahs, with 29 of them utilizing NCCAOM scrutiny as all or portion of their educational, preparation, or scrutiny demand, and three with addditional eligibility standards. The certificates used by acupuncturists include C.A. ( certified acupuncturist ) , Lic. Ac. ( accredited acupuncturist ) , M.A. ( chief acupuncturist ) , Dip. Ac. ( diplomate of stylostixis ) , and O.M.D. ( physician of Oriental medical specialty ) . Some of these have legal significance, but they do non mean that the holder is competent to do equal diagnosings or render appropriate intervention.

In 1990, the U.S. Secretary of Education recognized what is now called the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine ( ACAOM ) as an accrediting bureau. However, such acknowledgment is non based on the scientific cogency of what is taught but upon other standards [ 14 ] . Ulett has noted:

Certification of acupuncturists is a fake. While a few of those so commissioned are naif doctors, most are

nonmedical individuals who merely play at being physician and usage this enfranchisement as an umbrella for a host of unproved

New Age nonsense interventions. Unfortunately, a few HMOs, infirmaries, and even medical schools are yielding to

the come-on and exposing patients to such fake interventions when they need existent medical attention.

The National Council Against Health Fraud has concluded:

Acupuncture is an unproved mode of intervention.

Its theory and pattern are based on crude and notional constructs of wellness and disease that bear no relationship to show scientific cognition

Research during the past 20 old ages has non demonstrated that stylostixis is effectual against any disease.

Perceived effects of stylostixis are likely due to a combination of outlook, suggestion, counter-irritation,

conditioning, and other psychologic mechanisms. The usage of stylostixis should be restricted to allow research scenes, Insurance companies should non be required by jurisprudence to cover stylostixis intervention,

Licensure of ballad acupuncturists should be phased out. Consumers who wish to seek stylostixis should discourse their state of affairs with a knowing doctor who has no commercial involvement [ 15 ] .

The NIH Debacle

In November 1997, a Consensus Development Conference sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and several other bureaus concluded that & # 8220 ; there is sufficient grounds. . . of stylostixis & # 8217 ; s value to spread out its usage into conventional medical specialty and to promote farther surveies of its physiology and clinical value. & # 8221 ; [ 16 ] The panellists besides suggested that the federal authorities and insurance companies expand coverage of stylostixis so more people can hold entree to it. These decisions were non based on research done since NCAHF & # 8217 ; s place paper was published. Rather, they reflected the prejudice of the panellists who were selected by a planning commission dominated by stylostixis advocates [ 17 ] . NCAHF board president Wallace Sampson, M.D. , has described the conference & # 8220 ; a consensus of advocates, non a consensus of valid scientific opinion. & # 8221 ;

Although the study described some serious jobs, it failed to put them into proper position. The panel acknowledged that & # 8220 ; the huge bulk of documents analyzing acupuncture consist of instance studies, instance series, or intercession surveies with designs inadequate to measure efficaciousness & # 8221 ; and that & # 8220 ; comparatively few & # 8221 ; high-quality controlled tests have been published about stylostixis & # 8217 ; s effects. But it reported that & # 8220 ; the World Health Organization has listed more than 40 [ conditions ] for which [ stylostixis ] may be indicated. & # 8221 ; This sentence should hold been followed by a statement that the list was non valid.

Far more serious, although the consensus study touched on Chinese stylostixis theory, it failed to indicate out the danger and economic waste involved in traveling to practicians who can & # 8217 ; Ts make appropriate diagnosings. The study noted:

The general theory of stylostixis is based on the premiss that there are forms of energy flow ( Qi ) through the organic structure that are indispensable for wellness. Breaks of this flow are believed to be responsible for disease. The acupuncturist can rectify instabilities of flow at identifiable points near to the tegument.

Acupuncture focuses on a holistic, energy-based attack to the patient instead than a disease-oriented diagnostic and intervention theoretical account. Despite considerable attempts to understand the anatomy and physiology of the & # 8220 ; stylostixis points, & # 8221 ; the definition and word picture of these points remains controversial. Even more elusive is the scientific footing of some of the cardinal traditional Eastern medical constructs such as the circulation of Qi, the meridian system, and the five stages theory, which are hard to accommodate with modern-day biomedical information but continue to play an of import function in the, rating of patients and the preparation of intervention in stylostixis.

Simply stated, this means that if you go to a practician who patterns traditional Chinese medical specialty, you are improbable to be decently diagnosed. In 1998, following his talk at a local college, an experient TCM practician diagnosed me by taking my pulsation and looking at my lingua. He stated that my pulsation showed marks of & # 8220 ; emphasis & # 8221 ; and that my lingua indicated I was enduring from & # 8220 ; congestion of the blood. & # 8221 ; A few proceedingss subsequently, he examined a adult female and told her that her pulsation showed premature ventricular contractions ( a perturbation of the bosom & # 8217 ; s rhythm that could be harmless or important, depending on whether the person has implicit in bosom disease ) . He suggested that both of us undergo intervention with stylostixis and herbs & # 8212 ; which would hold cost about $ 90 per visit. I took the adult female & # 8217 ; s pulsation and found that it was wholly normal. I believe that the bulk of nonmedical acupuncturists pattern in this mode. The NIH consensus panel should hold emphasized the earnestness of this job.


1. Skrabanek P. Acupuncture: Past, nowadays, and hereafter. In Stalker D, Glymour C, editors. Examining Holistic Medicine.

Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1985.

2. Kurtz P, Alcock J, and others. Testing psi claims in China: Visit by a CSICOP deputation. Disbelieving Inquirer 12:364-375,


3. Melzack R, Katz J. Auriculotherapy fails to alleviate chronic hurting: A controlled crossing over survey. JAMA 251:1041? 1043,


4. Ter Reit G, Kleijnen J, Knipschild P. Acupuncture and chronic hurting: A criteria-based meta-analysis. Clinical Epidemiology

43:1191-1199, 1990.

5. Ter Riet G, Kleijnen J, Knipschild P. A meta-analysis of surveies into the consequence of stylostixis on dependence. British Journal of

General Practice 40:379-382, 1990.

6. American Medical Association Council on Scientific Affairs. Reports of the Council on Scientific Affairs of the American

Medical Association, 1981. Chicago, 1982, The Association.

7. Ulett GA. Acupuncture update 1984. Southern Medical Journal 78:233? 234, 1985.

8. Tang J-L, Zhan S-Y, Ernst E. Review of randomised controlled tests of traditional Chinese medical specialty. British Medical Journal

319:160-161, 1999.

9. Streitberger K, Kleinhenz J. Introducing a placebo acerate leaf into acupuncture research. Lancet 352:364-365, 1998.

10. Norheim JA, Fennebe V. Adverse effects of stylostixis. Lancet 345:1576, 1995.

11. Yama*censored*a H and others. Adverse events related to stylostixis. JAMA 280:1563-1564, 1998.

12. Acupuncture needle position changed. FDA Talk Paper T96-21, April 1, 1996

13 Wells D. Think acu-practic: Acupuncture benefits for chiropractic. Journal of the American Chiropractic Association

35 ( 3 ) :10-13, 1998.

14. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education. Nationally Recognized Accrediting Agencies and

Associations. Criteria and Procedures for Listing by the U.S. Secretary For Education and Current List. Washington, D.C. ,

1995, U.S. Department of Education.

15. Sampson W and others. Acupuncture: The place paper of the National Council Against Health Fraud. Clinical Journal of

Pain 7:162-166, 1991.

16. Acupuncture. NIH Consensus Statement 15: ( 5 ) , November 3-5, 1997.

17. Sampson W. On the National Institute of Drug Abuse Consensus Conference on Acupuncture. Scientific Review of

Alternate Medicine 2 ( 1 ) :54-55, 1998.

Quackwatch Home Page

This article was updated on July 30, 1999.


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