MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Acupuncture is a branch of alternative medicine where pseudo-science abounds. Here is yet another example of this deplorable phenomenon.

This study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture in the management of primary dysmenorrhea.

Sixty females aged 17-23 years were randomly assigned to either a study group or a control group.

  • The study group received acupuncture for the duration of 20 minutes/day, for 15 days/month, for the period of 90 days.
  • The control group did not receive acupuncture for the same period.

Both groups were assessed on day 1; day 30 and day 60; and day 90. The results showed a significant reduction in all the variables such as the visual analogue scale score for pain, menstrual cramps, headache, dizziness, diarrhoea, faint, mood changes, tiredness, nausea, and vomiting in the study group compared with those in the control group.

The authors concluded that acupuncture could be considered as an effective treatment modality for the management of primary dysmenorrhea.

These findings contradict those of a recent Cochrane review (authored by known acupuncture-proponents) which included 42 RCTs and concluded that there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate whether or not acupuncture or acupressure are effective in treating primary dysmenorrhoea, and for most comparisons no data were available on adverse events. The quality of the evidence was low or very low for all comparisons. The main limitations were risk of bias, poor reporting, inconsistency and risk of publication bias.

The question that I ask myself is this: why do researchers bother to conduct studies that contribute NOTHING to our knowledge and progress? The new study had a no-treatment control group which means it cannot control for the effects of placebo, the extra attention, social desirability etc. In view of the fact that already 42 poor quality trials exist, it is not just useless to add a 43rd but, in my view, it is scandalous! A 43rd useless trial:

  • tells us nothing of value;
  • misleads the public;
  • pollutes the medical literature;
  • is a waste of resources;
  • undermines the trust in clinical research;
  • is deeply unethical.

It is high time to stop such redundant, foolish, wasteful and unethical pseudo-science.

 

6 Responses to Acupuncture: it is time to stop redundant, foolish, wasteful and unethical pseudo-science.

  • Not only is research into pseudo-science such as that set out above a waste of time, effort and money – and unethical, but so are the practices promoted.

    I am concerned at the lack of honesty and integrity displayed by most who endorse acupuncture. They invariably fail to obtain properly informed consent from patients – not only for the therapy, but also for any associated research undertaking.

    The GMC is currently re-hashing and updating its guidance on obtaining consent – clearly all GMC registered practitioners should be more circumspect in future. At the very least they should explain to patients:

    “I must inform you that there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate whether or not acupuncture, acupressure or variants are effective in treating any condition. The majority of medical practitioners regard acupuncture as “a theatrical placebo” and the underlying principles as pseudo-science. With that understanding and, on that basis, I ask your consent to treat you with acupuncture. Sign here.”

    It goes without saying that to use public funds to provide acupuncture (e.g, in the NHS) should now be regarded as inappropriate and cease. Patients who need counselling should have counselling. Those who are serious about research should do serious research.

  • Location of the College who did this “research”.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karnataka
    and
    college of naturopathy snf yogi sciences
    http://www.sdmbnys.in

  • As usual with such research it demonstrates an important distinction between science and pseudo-science: science in capable of progress; pseudo-science not only goes around in circles, but deliberately avoids progress.

    Despite the fact that medical science has developed all those fancy ways of performing sham acupuncture for control groups, these researchers decided to regress to the comfortable time before placebo-controlled research for acupuncture existed.

  • Maybe all improbable practices such as accupuncture, homeopathy and so on should be required to at least show a means by which their they act – physics denies that homeopathy can work sich water clearly doesn’t have a memory- and so on.

    If those who want to sell these non-worlking treatments could only do so when it is shown how the treatment worked we might see a lot fewer people wasting money on these treatments.

  • These studies always conclude with “further research is needed” which is a euphemism for “this trial is a worthless scam.”

    One very interesting thing is that sometimes CAM researchers pick poor study designs on purpose because certain types of study give “better” results. It’s downright narcissistic.

  • Acupuncture is more and more becoming a female thing. The psycho-social factors behind this phenomenon bear examination. It’s psycho-drama “medicine” for women. A cultural phenomenon. And there is a corresponding and complicit acupuncture research cultural phenomenon. The unquestioned article of faith behind it all is that acupuncture works. Thousands of years of Chinese history proves it. The job of “science” is to confirm it. That is the project.

    It’s not science, it’s not medicine. What the hell is it?

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