vitamins, alternative medicine, antioxidants

Vitamin Stuff Blog

A Health, Nutrition, and Alternative Medicine Blog

Monday, July 6, 2009

Does Acupuncture help Arthritis?

Do you believe in alternative medicine? Many medical professionals do not, dismissing it as a bunch of mumbo jumbo that may actually harm patients by delaying diagnosis from a licensed physician.

The American Medical Association (AMA), which has come out neither officially for nor against the procedure, has released statements noting the lack of "well-designed, stringently controlled research" to back up its effectiveness.

Most attempts to supply such empirical evidence have been less than successful. A 2004 study by the Center for Integrative Medicine in Maryland attempted to document the effectiveness of acupuncture in osteoarthritis patients, but results were disappointing. While 40 percent of patients who received acupuncture saw improvement in their arthritis symptoms, success rates among the placebo group, who received fake acupuncture, were almost as high at 31 percent.

The BMJ journal also recently published an analysis of 13 studies of acupuncture for treatment of pain, which concluded that real acupuncture treatments were no more effective than the placebo ones.

Nonetheless, the popularity of alternative treatments such as acupuncture is on the rise.

The number of people who use acupuncture increased by 1 million between 2007 and 2002, according to a study published in December by The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). Richard Nahin, director for research at NCCAM, said that acupuncture does have a visible effect on specific areas of the brain, an effect that can be observed through the use of magnetic resonance imaging.

Unlike traditional medicine, acupuncture, an ancient form of Chinese medicine, seeks to treat illness by balancing a person’s energy flow. It has been claimed to be effective for the treatment of pain, obesity, depression, infertility, and post-traumatic stress syndrome. But studies supporting these claims have been small, and have not been validated to ensure that positive results can be duplicated.

Yet more and more physicians today, particularly younger ones, are more open-minded in their attitude toward alternative medicine, perhaps in response to public demand.

Linda Lee, a gastroenterologist and director of the Integrative Medicine Digestive Center at Johns Hopkins, says there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to give credence to the efficacy of acupuncture. “We physicians are in the healing business, and we have to go beyond the pharmacological solutions to understand the whole person,” she said.

If you are considering acupuncture, be sure to go to a licensed practitioner who uses only single-use disposable needles. Keep in mind that some insurance companies do not cover the procedure. For more information about acupuncture, visit The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture website.



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