It’s acupuncture awareness week in the UK, and therefore, I will focus on this treatment for a few days.
Yesterday, the ‘HALE CLINIC’, London happened to be in the papers for making unsubstantiated claims. It seems to be THE place where the super-rich take their money when they feel a little off colour.
This institution has for many years been a great promoter of acupuncture. On their website, which seems to have changed significantly since the press report about bogus claims made there, they even advertise acupuncture for children and little babies:
Acupuncture has been a normal part of the healthcare system in China for thousands of years, ever since ancient times, being used on babies and children as well as adults. Paediatric acupuncture is a specialist branch of traditional acupuncture, fundamentally the traditional theory is no different, the difference comes with how we assess the children and the way we use the needles. A child’s vital energy or Qi is abundant and much easier to access as it is young. This often means results can be very dramatic and sustained in a positive way, enabling the child to grow into adulthood without conditions that may have stayed throughout their lives.
Acupuncture involves using very short, fine sterile needles which are inserted using a very gentle needle technique specifically for babies. The needles do not stay in so the consultation is relatively quick and the child feels very little. Moxa is often used which is a herb called mugwart that has been rolled into a cigar shape. This is lit and then it smoulders producing a gentle heat which is held over the skin of the child creating a delightful warming sensation. This therapy is very popular with the children as it is very relaxing.
Acupuncture is an extremely effective therapy for babies and children and they are very receptive to it. Once their initial natural anxieties have been overcome, children often find the whole experience enjoyable and look forward to coming for their appointments.
In the interest of promoting awareness of the truth about acupuncture, I think, one ought to point out a few things here:
- The history of acupuncture was not at all as simple as implied above. Acupuncture was even banned in China. Mao re-introduced it, not because he thought it was effective but because he needed to offer some sort of healthcare to the masses.
- The concept of vital energy is a pre-scientific myth which has no basis in reality.
- To claim that children can grow into adulthood without conditions that may have stayed throughout their lives, implies that acupuncture effectively prevents certain diseases. I am not aware of any good evidence for this claim and would therefore classify it as bogus.
- The claim that acupuncture is an extremely effective therapy for babies and children is not supported by good evidence.
What does that tell us about the honesty of the claims made for acupuncture?
You are not surprised?
Considering that the HALE CLINIC now had many hours to ‘clean up’ their website after the allegations in the press, I have to admit that I am a little shocked. They seem to make unsubstantiated claims in order to take parents’ money for sticking useless and potentially harmful needles into their tiny infants.
I am shocked that such misleading information seems to be deemed to be inoffensive.
I am shocked to think that some parents might be sufficiently gullible to do this sort of thing to their infants.
And I am shocked that some people seem to earn their living doing such things.