Issues Plaguing TCM Treatments in the West

It may seem a bit odd to conduct studies to “prove” certain healing practices can provide certain health benefits even after they’ve been proven to work for several centuries. With TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), in general, and acupuncture, in particular, this seems to be the case.

A meta-analysis evaluation encompasses a lot of several laboratory or clinical outcomes with the same theme or purpose to figure out a foundation’s or a basic thread’s validity.

In 2013 of March, a study was published by the Seoul-based Kyung Hee University Acupuncture and Meridian Science Research Center.

In the study 28 brain scans (MRI or magnetic resonance image) were compiles from 51 past studies dealing with acupuncture. These scans were then compared with other MRI studies involving experiments related to tactile stimulation. The study was about pain and how the pain centers of the brain were affected by needle stimulation.

The result of the meta-analysis showed that needle stimulation (acupuncture) led to specific changes in the activity of different areas of the brain and in its association with pain’s multiple dimensions. The researchers can concluded that this meta-analysis can be built further by more future studies which can lead to a further understanding of acupuncture’s important therapeutic effects.

Does it make sense to test an already proven 4,000 –year old medical art?

It is somewhat intriguing that this meta-analysis was performed in a culture that has deep roots in TCM practice since it gained the knowledge from China as far back as 560 AD. So, do they really need to prove it works through meta-analysis instead of relying on the hundreds of years of consistent success it has time and time again demonstrated in that country?

Acupuncture in Saratoga Springs has been repeatedly used for the relief of pain. It is even used for anesthetic purposes during major surgery.

Why would a Korean meridian research center do a meta-analysis using a western medical style comparison study and MRI technology only to conclude with a recommendation for further studies?

The phrase “future studies” or “further studies” are commonly used terms as a way for asking more funds for research. It can also be a deceptive way to tell others to further undermine acupuncture’s potency in order to maintain the supremacy of the pharmaceutical industry over alternative, natural and safer modes of treatments. It can also be a sly way of opening up the purses of the insurance industry by giving acupuncture a real shot in order to have an inexpensive treatment cost. To do this, acupuncture needs to be scrutinized in a way that is totally different from what is practiced in real clinical settings. This explains why the results from studies always end up with inconclusive evidences of its potency.

The rate of acupuncture treatments are less than the rates charged by allopathic doctors sans any procedures. One typical acupuncture session may cost $50 – $100, and usually there are ten to twenty sessions or spaced apart by a few days in order to attain the best results.

One can get acupuncture treatment for one third of the cost from supervised student rates in acupuncture colleges. Of course, being treated by a student is not the same as being treated by a qualified practitioner.

Insurance companies demand that in order to confirm efficacy studies on acupuncture should involve an assemblage of peer reviewed double blind placebo experiments done on a considerably less costly medical approach even while they accept shady reviews on very costly treatments that render serious side effects and usually don’t work well.

Acupuncture follows a paradigm completely different to the ones used in Western conventional medicine and this is the biggest issue in its being accepted by the West. Entirely different is acupuncture’s foundations, yet the western scientific community keeps on comparing it with their own style of research. You cannot compare apples to oranges; you can accept that apples and oranges are essentially totally different entities although both are fruits.

These days, acupuncturists are struggling to gain acceptance from the medical insurance industry. For certain health conditions, Maryland, Washington, New Mexico, and California are offering insurance coverage for acupuncture. Nevada and Alaska may probably follow suit.

Sadly, TCM needs to be translated into western allopathic terms to desperately convince insurance organizations that cheaper can be better. As long as the pharmaceutical industry has a vise grip on how medical studies are done and on the medical establishment, the future of TCM will remain in oblivion.

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