Acupuncture Goes Mainstream (Almost)

August 16, 1998

August 16, 1998

Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld: For some types of pain and nausea, acupuncture may help.dr

While Western medicine has yet to explain how 8t worked, more and more doctors are acknowledging its effectiveness in treating a variety of chronic conditions

UNTIL RECENTLY, acupuncture had as much credibility for most Western doctors as an egg roll. However it is now almost mainstream.

After years of doubt and derogation, reports have begun to appear in our scientific literature confirming its potential benefits. A panel convened by the National Institutes of Health that’s as (Establishments you can get) has concluded that acupuncture does alleviate pain and nausea in certain circumstances and is “probably effective” in treating several other medical symptoms.

A young woman undergoes open-heart surgery in Shanghai with no anesthetic except acupuncture.

A young woman undergoes open-heart surgery in Shanghai with no anesthetic except acupuncture.

Relatively few physicians prescribe acupuncture as freely as they do painkillers, though their numbers are increasing. Don’t wait for them to catch up. If a qualified practitioner thinks it can help, try acupuncture if you have a chronic disorder that has been properly diagnosed and has not responded to conventional measures. You have nothing to lose. It may not work (nothing does for everything and everybody). Should you decide to try it, you won’t be alone. Nor will you have any problem finding a skilled practitioner among the 10,000 licensed acupuncturists (4000 of them are M.D.s) whom Americans visit 12 million times a year. They work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, private offices and, yes, in your city’s Chinatown.

These acupuncture points promote sinus drainage and open nasal passages.

These acupuncture points promote sinus drainage and open nasal passages.

I first witnessed acupuncture at the University of Shanghai about 20 years ago. The patient These acupuncture points promote sinus drainage and open nasal passages.was a 28-year-old woman about to have open-heart surgery. She was placed on the operating table, wide awake and smiling. Then, to my astonishment, the surgeon proceeded to open her chest.

Her only anesthetic was an acupuncture needle in her right earlobe that was connected to an electrical source. She never flinched. There was no mask on her face, no intravenous needle in her arm. This account is not hearsay.

ACUPUNCTURE MYTHS AND FACTS:

MYTH: Acupuncture is done only by Asian healers

FACT: About 4000 MD.s in this country perform acupuncture.

MYTH: The medical establishment says acupuncture is of no value.

FACT: A National Institutes of Health committee has concluded that acupuncture eases certain pain disorders and nausea, and it has recommended research into its effectiveness in other area

MYTH: No insurance company will reimburse you for acupuncture

FACT: Several companies will reimburse if a licensed doctor has recommended it for a specified properly diagnosed disorder.

MYTH: Acupuncture is painful and dangerous.

FACT: There is only a slight sting and there is no danger when disposable or sterilized reusable needles are used.

I was there and took the photo on this page.

The Chinese believe things go wrong in the body complementary life forces, yin and yang. This energy (called Ch ‘i and pronounced chee”) is said to flow along 14 interconnected main channels (‘meridians”) on each side of the body, which surface at some 360 acupuncture points.

These meridians service one or more specific areas or organs. An imbalance between one’s yin and yang can be corrected by needling’ or stimulating the appropriate points on the body’s surface.

When I asked my hosts for scientific proof of this theory they laughed and replied: Why should we spend time, money and resources just to convince Western doctors of something we’ve used successfully for thousands of years? What better better proof do you need than that woman lying wide awake on the table with her her chest open?”

There are many reasons why it has taken so long for acupuncture to be accepted in this country: It comes from an alien society; its purported mechanism of action is incomprehensible to the Western scientific mind; it is not bolstered by any scientific data and documentation, which American doctors demand before prescribing any treatment.

Yet, because of their patients’ wide and growing interest in it, Western doctors have almost been forced to take acupuncture seriously.

BY ISADORE ROSENFELD, M.D.