Annie Favreau Blog 2: Acupuncture

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Annie Favreau

WRIT 3152W: Blog Post 2

"Acupuncture: Real or Sham?" SEED Magazine

The topic of the validity of acupuncture interests me because this treatment seems to be a very hot topic in today's society, and it has been prescribed to members of my family.  To me, acupuncture is a supplement to medical attention for an injury or recovery, I classify it in the same category as chiropractic work.  Whether this classification is correct or incorrect, to me both of these practices are used as supplements to the more science based medical treatment.  I am most interested in discovering whether or not acupuncture's results can be adequately measured.  Can science prove that acupuncture has the ability to treat certain ailments?

The article, "Acupuncture: Real or Sham?" examines different test groups for studying the effects of acupuncture.  The first study was on Norwegian women, testing the effects of acupuncture as the treatment for hot flashes during menopause.  In this study, the volunteers were aware of which group they represented, meaning some of the individuals knew they were part of the "no treatment" control group.  This study showed that those women who received acupuncture treatment  experienced fewer hot flashes.  Critics view these results as invalid, because the volunteers knew which part of the group they represented.  Whereas those promoting acupuncture find these results to be very beneficial in gaining support for this practice.  Another argument against this experiment's data is that the results of this study cannot be scientifically measured, instead they are being reported by each volunteer

The second type of research study was conducted with a sham acupuncture control group, where both practitioners and patients believed they were receiving acupuncture.  This study has been used many times over the past years, and shown little difference between the two groups.  In one study using the sham acupuncture control group a difference was observed in brain activity.  The brain activity was changed by acupuncture, but the of reception of pain in the brain did not change. 

These two studies make each individual take a different look at the practice of acupuncture.  The research that is scientifically backed shows that acupuncture does not effect pain receptors or relieve pain, but instead just changes brain activity.  Whether or not this change in brain activity proves to benefit an individual is unknown.  The other type of research shows that when one believes they are being treated with this practice, they believe that results will follow.  I think this research is beneficial to individuals who have been advised to seek acupunture treatment.  For myself and my family, I value the research that is scientifically based.  This lead me to not believe in the healing power of acupuncture.  I think that my argument relates to the reading "Scientism"  which distinguishes between the social science methods of theory and the scientific theory.  This follows the concept that the social context in which people find themselves is a controlling factor in how people behave.  I think this concept explains the results of the first study, and also helps disprove the results.

2 Comments

I think the idea of acupuncture can be strongly related back to the idea of Placebo drugs and the power of the human mind. In my opinion, acupuncture is going to work if you believe it is going to work (similar to a placebo, but with more science involved). I think what really is emphasized is the power of the human mind. It really seems to be true that if you believe it you can probably do it. I think a lot of what is so powerful about the human mind is will power. Some people have the will to survive and get better and others don't.

I have never thought as acupuncture as a medical treatment. To me it's not scientific either. My mom knows someone who used acupuncture to help her quit smoking, so how does this work? I think the result of this person stopping smokking was something she thought was cured by acupuncture. So I think this change in brain activity does benefit an individual, whether it really helps a person medically, or makes them think they are "cured".

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This page contains a single entry by favr0015 published on September 23, 2009 2:01 PM.

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