We believe that acupuncture is good for many conditions but currently UK law administered by the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) now insists that only when ‘robust’ evidence is available may claims for efficacy be made.
By ‘robust’ evidence they mean neither
the WHO (World Health Organisation) list of conditions treatable by acupuncture nor
a similar list on the British National Health Service acupuncture evidence site
The ASA regards both as inadequate! They regard such lists as being based only on positive evidence and not on all reviews including those of research conducted on a condition where the results were also found to be negative or inconclusive.
We would point out that although, for convenience, conditions with names such as nausea, vomiting and dental pain are treated as such (and successfully according to their requirements for ‘robust’ evidence) acupuncturists don’t treat such conditions!
What acupuncture is good for are, for example, syndromes and channel problems as defined in Chinese medicine.
For example, ‘nausea’ is not such a syndrome.
Nausea can arise in Chinese medicine from a multitude of syndromes, some easier to treat than others, such as
When you visit your acupuncturist, you may think you are being treated for nausea, your ‘presenting’ condition.
Actually, your acupuncturist will be thinking about which of a number of different ways to diagnose your problem is appropriate.
So he’ll probably think first of which syndromes are involved. He’ll also be thinking of which acupuncture channels run through any locations where you feel nausea. He’ll also consider any other factors that might be important, including your diet and lifestyle. Then he’ll take your pulse the Chinese way, examine your tongue, and probably palpate your abdomen or feel for blockages along acupuncture channels in your legs or arms. All this gives him information about what may be going ‘wrong’ for you.
He will then devise a treatment that improves the syndromes he’s diagnosed, and clears blockages in your abdomen or channels.
If the treatment is successful, your nausea will improve – almost as a side effect!
People often don’t know about the wealth of conditions that acupuncture treats. Sometimes a friend told them that acupuncture was good for the problem the friend had, but they then assume it’s no good for anything else.
Or they assume it’s good for everything!
What else does your acupuncturist need to know?
Apart from the usual medical details (see Consultation), it is important that you tell your practitioner:
If you have ever experienced a fit, faint or funny turn.
If you have a pacemaker or any other electrical implants.
When you have a bleeding disorder.
If you are taking anti-coagulants or any other medication.
If you have damaged heart valves or have any other particular risk of infection.
He (or she) needs to know the answers to these questions not just so as to guide him away from inappropriate treatment but to give him a deeper understanding of your condition.
For example, you may think that your pacemaker controls your heart so your acupuncturist need not worry about it.
However, if a pacemaker is controlling your heartbeat that means that at least one of the basic syndromes in Chinese medicine needs attention – and that may be as well as the syndrome he might otherwise have diagnosed.
By diagnosing your symptoms into syndromes, your acupuncturist can tell you which of them acupuncture is good for.
Also, if you have pain along one or more channels, he may be able to clear any blockage or deficiency in those channels, thereby relieving pain.
So, is acupuncture good for acupuncture channel problems?
It most certainly is! Channel theory is a huge part of the general theory behind acupuncture and a skilled practitioner can often alleviate pain remarkably quickly through using it.