The effect of good acupuncture is to do more than just relieve physical symptoms. As treatment tends to balance the whole system, many people find it also leads to increased vitality, greater confidence, better appetite and sleep, as well as an overall sense of well-being.
Traditional acupuncture’s greatest strength is that it treats each patient individually. It focuses on all the factors that contribute to pain and illness, not just the presenting symptoms. The focus is on the individual, not their illness, and all the symptoms are seen in relation to each other. Each patient is unique and so two people with the same western diagnosis may well receive different acupuncture treatments.
Consequently, traditional acupuncture does not neatly fit the prevalent research protocols that have been developed in response to symptom-based treatments.
The ‘gold standard’ for research into the effectiveness of Western medication is the Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) whereby a group of patients with identical symptoms is divided into two. One group receives the medication on trial and the other group is given nothing, a different medication, or a placebo. Effectiveness of treatment is then measured by comparing the two groups.
Understandably, this approach will not be a very helpful way of gauging acupuncture’s effectiveness because, as explained above, acupuncture is a system based upon treating people rather than conditions. The cause of, for example, a migraine, in one patient, may be entirely different from the cause in another patient and so different treatment will be given, but giving different treatment for the seemingly same symptom is not permissible in a RCT. As a result, there are not that many RCTs into acupuncture and those that exist tend not to show very good results.
Nevertheless, there are many other more appropriate methods of gauging effectiveness and these invariably produce excellent results.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Colds and flu
Gastrointestinal tract disorders
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Nausea and vomiting
Post operative pain
Pregnancy and labour
In 2009 the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommended that acupuncture should be made available on the NHS, as a cost-effective short-term treatment for the management of early, persistent non-specific lower back pain. http://www.nice.org.uk/media/7D0/4D/2009031LowBackPainGuidelineRelease.pdf
Acupuncture is regularly recommended as a treatment in NHS pain clinics.
If you would like further information about how acupuncture may specifically help you please contact me.