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Turf War Over Who Can Claim The Title Of Acupuncturist

By John Dwyer

Doctors and complementary medicine practitioners are at loggerheads over who can use the title acupuncturist.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Acupuncture is popular and no doubt lucrative for its practitioners. The fact that it doesn’t work seems to be of little relevance, and certainly has not curbed enthusiasm for the application of what is, in effect, a superb placebo.

Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine seem culturally locked into an unshakeable belief in the pre-scientific concepts of a non-existent vital force (Ch’i) transmitted along meridians which, when blocked or imbalanced, cause disease. Trigger spots for acupuncture to correct these problems are said to lie along the meridians.

For anyone who believes that the appropriate standard for modern medicine should be credible scientific evidence of clinical effectiveness, it’s disturbing that so many doctors, trained to understand scientific method, are embracing the technique. It’s not a situation where doctors using acupuncture say, “Well the Chinese theories may be nonsensical but the technique actually works for unknown reasons and is effective in a large number of conditions.”

Acupuncture has been subjected to extensive scientific analysis, particularly in the last decade. Its ability to help with some forms of neck pain is the only benefit that has support from good science and that turns out to have nothing to do with meridian lines, mysterious forces or any of the other mystical propositions cited in support of...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

John Dwyer 
Founder of the Australian Health Care Reform Alliance & Emeritus Professor at University of New South Wales and one of the founding members of the Friends of Science in Medicine. This article is reproduced from The Conversation (http://www.theconversation.edu.au).