[Paleopsych] Chronicle Colloquy: Acupuncture Meets Aspirin

Todd I. Stark thrst4knw at aol.com
Mon Nov 21 19:36:57 UTC 2005

Well yeah, exactly right.

I think it is true that there is sufficient empirical data and 
sufficient investigation of some possible mechanisms of action to say 
that acupuncture has as at least as much surface legitimacy as a 
modality as many surgical and pharmaceutical treatments, at least for 
some problems, and a plausibly better track record for adverse effects 
in most cases.  The remaining gap between acupuncture and Western 
medicine is not one of perceived efficacy as much as it is one of 
incorporating it as a modality into the Western research model  so that 
it can potentially be improved even further.  We don't have much trouble 
testing the effects of therapeutic massage, but when we deal with 
something that has a lot of distinctly non-mechanistic aspects to its 
theory like acupuncture or Yoga (or hypnotherapy for that matter!), we 
get all caught up in being unable to capture the practice variables in a 
way that lets us tweak and improve on them.  It shouldn't prevent us 
from validating the practice in some sense, but it definitely makes it 
harder to translate it into a model that helps us understand better the 
way it works.


Premise Checker wrote on 11/21/2005, 1:42 PM:

 > Acupuncture Meets Aspirin
 > http://chronicle.com/colloquy/2005/11/altmed/chat.php3
 > [Article appended. I'll be asking to what extent acupuncture is a
 > progressive
 > field. An enthusiastic accupunturist came to give a noon talk where I
 > work and,
 > like far too many speakers, spent nearly all his time on his message.
 > I had to
 > leave early but did manage to interrupt to ask him whether some
 > particular
 > technique he was describing was a new practice. He said it wasn't. I am
 > extremely suspicious of any field that does not progress. The whole
 > study of
 > paranormal phenomenon is still where it was 150 years ago, namely
 > documenting
 > that there are phenomena we do not understand. The pile of
 > documentation gets
 > bigger, if new reports come in faster than old reports get explained
 > away, but
 > there are no laws to be had, not even trends and correlations.]
 >     Thursday, November 17, at 2 p.m., U.S. Eastern time
 >     More than half the nation's medical schools require some study of
 >     non-Western healing methods, like acupuncture, herbs, and meditation,
 >     and the number is growing. Do future doctors need to know about
 >     alternative and complementary medicine? Or is incorporating those
 >     methods into medical-school curricula just an attempt to pander to
 >     popular tastes?
 >     >> Click here to [55]ask a question.
 >    55. http://chronicle.com/colloquy/2005/11/altmed/question.php3
 >     The discussion has not started yet.
 >     Join us here on Thursday, November 17, at 2 p.m., U.S. Eastern time.
 > The Topic
 >     Since the early 1990s, acupuncture, herbs, massage, and meditation
 >     have found their way into traditional medical schools, and now more
 >     than half the nation's accredited schools require at least some study
 >     of alternative or complementary medicine.
 >     Proponents say future doctors need to know about treatments that are
 >     increasingly entering the mainstream. They should know, for example,
 >     if an herbal remedy a patient is using might interfere with his
 >     chemotherapy. But many medical-school professors and students go
 >     further: They see no reason why they shouldn't refer a patient to an
 >     acupuncturist or chiropractor if other methods have failed.
 >     Is it irresponsible to teach remedies that many doctors consider
 > flaky
 >     or even dangerous? If medical students should not be trained in those
 >     methods, should they at least be taught to evaluate them, given that
 >     more than one-third of Americans now turn to alternative remedies? Or
 >     is incorporating those methods into the curriculum merely
 > pandering to
 >     popular tastes?
 >       » [57]Take 2 Herbal Remedies and Call Me in the Morning
 > (11/18/2005)
 > The Guest
 >     Michael J. Baime is a clinical assistant professor of medicine at the
 >     University of Pennsylvania and the founder and director of the Penn
 >     Program for Stress Management. He has practiced meditation since 1969
 >     and directs nontraditional courses, including "Spirituality and
 >     Medicine" and "Mind/Body Medicine." His current research projects
 >     include investigations into the use of meditation as a treatment for
 >     multiple sclerosis and obesity. He will respond to questions and
 >     comments about these issues on Thursday, November 17, at 2 p.m., U.S.
 >     Eastern time. Readers are welcome to post questions and comments now.
 >     A transcript will be available at this address following the
 >     discussion.
 > Acupuncture, Herbs, and a Chinese Gong
 > The Chronicle of Higher Education, 5.11.18
 > http://chronicle.com/weekly/v52/i13/13a01201.htm
 >     Laurel, Md.
 >     The Tai Sophia Institute for the Healing Arts is a two-hour drive
 > from
 >     the hustle and bustle of the University of Pennsylvania's medical
 >     school and hospitals, but with its Zen-like atmosphere and labs
 >     stocked with Chinese herbs, it feels worlds apart.
 >     The school is housed in a two-story, red-brick building in an office
 >     park in the Maryland suburbs of Washington. From the outside, it
 > could
 >     be any generic office. But inside, soothing music plays in the lobby
 >     over the sound of a gurgling fountain. Curved walls draw a visitor in
 >     along a carpet inlaid with a navy stripe that snakes through the
 >     building like a river.
 >     The walls, painted in colors like eggplant, pumpkin, and cream, are
 >     decorated with student projects bursting with stones and twigs that
 >     depict the cycles of nature. Classrooms are drenched in sunlight from
 >     wall-to-wall windows that look out on herb gardens and a stone
 >     labyrinth that students built for patients to wander through.
 >     At noon, the school's greeter strikes a Chinese gong over the
 >     intercom. "It reminds us how blessed we are to be alive," says Robert
 >     M. Duggan, an acupuncturist who founded the institute in 1974 as the
 >     College of Chinese Acupuncture. He has served as its president since
 >     then.
 >     Students and faculty members greet each other with Eastern-style bows
 >     and Western-style hugs. The school's name, combining the Chinese word
 >     for great (Tai) and the Greek word for wisdom (Sophia) reflects the
 >     meeting of Eastern and Western healing practices.
 >     The staff also comes from a mix of both traditional and
 > nontraditional
 >     higher-education backgrounds. Mary Ellen Petrisko, vice president for
 >     academic affairs, worked as a top executive with the Maryland Higher
 >     Education Commission and the University of Maryland's University
 >     College before moving to Tai Sophia three years ago.
 >     "When you walk in, there's a kind of serenity and a nice, pleasant
 >     energy that doesn't make you feel frenetic or stressed," says Ms.
 >     Petrisko, who was hired to provide structure and help ensure
 >     accreditation for what had before been "basically a mom-and-pop
 >     operation." Since then, the school has expanded its scope and begun
 >     working on joint education and research projects with the University
 >     of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
 >     Tai Sophia enrolls 125 students -- up from 40 a decade ago. Seventy
 >     are studying acupuncture, and the rest are evenly divided between
 >     botanical healing and applied healing arts. Herbs, Mr. Duggan says,
 >     are a $10-billion industry in the United States that needs people who
 >     understand how they interact with one another, and with other
 >     pharmaceuticals.
 >     Journals on botanical healing, acupuncture, and other remedies line
 >     the bookshelves of the school's library, along with magazines like
 >     Arthritis Today and Alternative Medicine.
 >     The library's circulation coordinator, wearing a purple and green
 >     tie-dyed shirt and jeans, points out human models marked with
 > meridian
 >     points where acupuncturists will insert needles. He leads Mr. Duggan
 >     and a visitor along bookshelves of research materials that support
 >     alternative forms of medicine.
 >     Says Mr. Duggan: "People say it's unproven, but the amount of data is
 >     unbelievable."
 >     It will take more than data and connections to an Ivy League medical
 >     school to win over some skeptics, but after more than 30 years as an
 >     acupuncturist and president of the school, Mr. Duggan has a clear
 >     sense of purpose.
 >     As he escorts a visitor back to the lobby, he points out the
 > window at
 >     four forked branches that are wrapped in colorful yarn and staked in
 >     the ground, as part of an American Indian tradition, marking the
 >     north, south, east, and west poles of the campus. Regardless of how
 >     the outside world views it, this school knows which way it's heading.
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