RECLAIMING ANCIENT WISDOM
Chapter six shows that acupuncture has stronger scientific support than much of CAM, but the evidence is weaker than many people suppose. Acupuncture’s popularity reflects dissatisfaction with modern medicine and longing for ancient remedies that presumably endured because they work. Although Americans assume a rigid separation between science and religion, the same Chinese developers who interpreted acupuncture as science backed by empirical results also conceived of acupuncture through the lens of Taoism. Sympathetic American medical doctors invented medical acupuncture by substituting biomedical theories for yin-yang and qi theory to explain why acupuncture seems effective. Cochrane reviews are largely inconclusive, revealing that the large quantity of acupuncture research reporting effects masks uneven quality, methodological challenges, and risks of bias in using sham needling for subjects in control groups; complications reported include death. Acupuncture may be most effective in relieving symptoms such as pain and nausea because of a placebo effect.
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