Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sensing some Sensationalism...

From the article, Acupuncture: Nonsense with Needles (1993)

by Arthur Taub, M.D., Ph.D

Acupuncture has not merely failed to demonstrate significant benefits. In some instances, it has also been very dangerous.

Acupuncture needles are not only inserted into the skin. Needles, up to one foot in length(!), may be inserted deep into the body; serious harm may result when they penetrate vital structures. In one case of back pain and burning around the mouth and vagina, needles were inserted through the skin of the chest. The lung was penetrated and collapsed, filling the chest cavity with almost a pint of blood. The patient required two weeks of hospitalization which was complicated by pneumonia.

Death from puncture of the heart has been reported. Other reports mention puncture of the liver, spleen, bladder, kidneys, and the pregnant uterus. Since classical Chinese medical practice does not recognize that germs cause disease, acupuncture needles might not be sterilized. Lack of sterile technique can, of course, result in bacterial and viral infections. In China, acupuncture needles are stored in alcohol solutions. Since alcohol does not kill the virus that causes infectious hepatitis, contaminated needles can spread this serious infection from patient to patient. Cases of bacterial endocarditis (a life-threatening infection involving a heart valve) have also been reported.

Some acupuncture needles are unusually thin and poorly made. Such needles tend to break. One scientist suffered excruciating pain in an acupuncture experiment when the needle broke off in his foot. An operation was needed to remove the needle.

There are several problems with Dr. Taub's argument. He doesn't provide specific cases and proof behind his words. For example, what year was "death from puncture of the heart" reported? What newspaper? what city? What proof can he give for such a huge revelation. If his purpose was to scare people, he certainly succeeds. I get acupuncture and he even freaked me out. What an image, a penetrated pregnant uterus. His article, for whatever reason, is intended to scare the reader. For someone who knows nothing about acupuncture, it might actually have been convincing. For someone who is on the fence about acupuncture, it might just scare them away. Thats something that makes Acupuncture skeptics who are vociferous about their fears so detrimental to the community.

Someone who is already not sure about acupuncture might read this article and seemingly have their fears "confirmed". it would be an excuse to not have acupuncture. That makes the fact that this guy is a Dr and PhD completely unfair. he is abusing his power because it is obvious he doesn't know too much about acupuncture. But he argues convincingly and uses some scary language.

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