Acupuncture, used for thousands of years in the Far East to treat pain and illness, has many followers but little scientific rigor to explain whether it works or not. Now, an unusual study suggests that acupuncture has a marked effect on the type of brain inflammation seen in Parkinson’s disease — in mice, that is.
[…] To investigate the protective effects of acupuncture in the brain, a team led by Sabina Lim at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, South Korea, used a standard mouse model of Parkinson’s disease, in which injections of a chemical known as MPTP kill off brain cells that manufacture dopamine.
Some of the injected mice then received acupuncture every two days in two spots, one behind the knee and one on top of the foot. In humans, says Lim, these points are traditionally considered to be involved in muscle movement, and thus could potentially be seen as targets for treatment of Parkinson’s. Another group of mice received acupuncture in two spots on the hips, not believed to be effective for acupuncture. A third group had no acupuncture at all.
By the end of seven days, the MPTP injections had decreased dopamine levels both in the mice that had not had acupuncture, and in the mice that received ‘pretend’ acupuncture, to about half the normal amount. But in the acupuncture-treated group, dopamine levels declined much less steeply, and nearly 80% of the dopamine remained.
The endocrinologist Candace Pert described in her autobiography Molecules of Emotion how one day an old vedic practitioner from India walked into her office carrying a transparent sheet marked with a spine and the location of traditional chakra centers. Surprisingly, when she laid it over the location of endocrine signaling clusters that she had just published the two matched up perfectly. Dr. Pert took this to mean that traditional practitioners were really on to something, which seems about right to me. I would stake good money on traditional cultures, particularly those which have worked out a tradition over the space of thousands of years, have plenty to teach modern medicine.
Of course tradition can just as easily enshrine bunkum as it can hidden truths. For that reason I’m also happy about the flip side of this sort of study – we can get a jump of years or decades on new approaches to treatment and traditional practitioners can winnow out practices that work from the placebos and hooey.
I should mention a potential conflict and give a deserved shout-out at the same time: an old acquaintance worked for years as an academic on merging empiricism with modern medicine. He has since written a book (site is in French) and become quite famous, although more in Europe than here.
Meh. Given that white mice in labs will develop tumors if you whisper the words “cigarettes” or “caffeine” to them, I try not to read too much into their responses to chemicals or treatments, good or bad.
Bad news Tim, I agree entirely ;) I read an article just a few days ago about how big pharma and biotechs are scouring the globe for herbal cures and treatments that they can patent.
On a semi-related note, has anyone else noted that so many chiropractors tend to have a chip on their shoulder regarding medical doctors?
i never could figure out the AMA’s hard-on rage for Chiropracty and midwives.
it’s one of the few things insurance companies have done, because both are cheaper than doctors, so the AMA can rail all it likes but when the HMO sees a better bottom lijne the AMA can go pound glass.
Indeed. I think all branches and variants of medicine have something to teach each other, and that we can only benefit when the medical community doesn’t close their minds to new (or very, very old) ideas.
It’s largly the AMA attempting to portray chiropracty as quack medicine and a scam. Granted there are some pretty bad chiropracters out there, but there are some suck as GPs and dentists too, but in general the warmest thing i’ve ever seen from doctors was ‘well, just make sure they don’t make anything worse’
Which is a joke becasue my mom and my fiance both work with people who have the “HMO and doctors covered up my cancer for a full year so now it’s stage 3 because they didn’t want to pay for specilists earlier” horror stories, and my mom’s doctors wanted to ‘fix’ her ankle with multiple $40k+ surgeries requiring weeks of rehab with no guarentee of success and her chiropracter managed to rehab it over the course of three years with some adjustments and correct orthapidic inserts.
My problem with chiropractors is that I have never met a person yet who went to a chiropractor who told them “you’re cured, no more need for my services”.
Every single time, even with improvements made, it’s always an attempt to get them to come back regularly.
Hmm. Funny the vedic didn’t come in before she published her book.
It’s like the Bermuda Triangle (remember that?). There must have been 40 books with various adjustments to the vertices. Show us chakra center drawing of the spine pre-1980 from 10 different sources and I bet you get 10 different drawings.
That’s because chiropractic can’t “cure” bad posture, or conformational problems- it’s up to the person to do that. Chiropractic treats the symptoms and can provide enormous relief in many cases, but without the person addressing the root cause of the discomfort the body will soon go back to its old posture, habits, etc. and the discomfort will return.
Even on the chance that I might be agreeing with you, which I fear is inevitable once in a while …
Let’s call spades, spades. Chiropractors are quacks. They preach and teach a “science” that is a bag of bullshit. The fact that they accidentally help some people notwithstanding.
Sorry, that’s the way it is.
They do tend to get crapped on by MDs. However, so do DO’s (Doctor of Osteopathy) and those guys spend an extra two years in Med. School before moving on to Residency etc.
I think the problem for all chiropractors is the most public face of the practice (strip mall chis) are honest to goodness snake oil salesmen. A realignment won’t cure cancer, reverse MPD, add 50 years to your life or whatever but some chis say it does.
However, our own federal government will pay for some chiropractic services and Medicare is extremely conservative about what it will cover.
and chiropractic care has been exceptionally helpfull in asisting me and mine with ongoing chronic issues, specificly my mom’s aforementioned bad anckle and her back when she slipped a disk back in ’94.
She keeps going because she keeps moving, and my Fiance also has ‘problem’ joints that like to pop out on a regular basis.
more when we’re at the dojo alot.
I tend to rate Chrio’s based upon what they say they can fix. If it’s anything more than bone alighnment/sinus issues I raise the bullshit flag.
I don’t know. I’ve got some degree of faith in ancient medicine. The Egyptians were using skin lotions and mud facials long before Neutragina. The Greeks could cure cateracts with surgery. Leeches have been used for detox for ages. Functional medicine didn’t just pop up in the 1950s with the modern hospital. I have no problem believing that after 3000 years, the Chinese had discovered the endocrine system in a very round-about way.
IIRC docs have been bleeding people since the Greeks. yet the number of illnesses that are amendable to bleeding is very, very small. however, the practice continued in western medicine until rather recently.
Same could be said for therapists. I’ve always raised an eyebrow at people who are in therapy for years and years and years. You’re either mentally screwed enough that you really should have been seeing psychiatrist and receiving meds, or you’ve just been wallowing and need to get over yourself.
That’s just my opinion, of course. No offense intended to any present who are currently in therapy.
Yes, read the ‘winnow out’ link in my post. Scientifically-speaking, that little girl is my hero. IMV thoroughly testing ancient knowledge has at least two benefits – it uncovers things we didn’t know before and it weeds out the things that don’t work.
pharniel has it.
There are Good Therapists and Bad Therapists. I’ve interacted with several who were convinced that one needed to see therapists constantly and many more who were convinced that therapy was about a six month long process at most.
I did it for a long time. I remember saying, half kidding, one evening, “Am I cured?”
I think I can still hear her laughing. And that was 20 years ago.
My mother has reported spectacular results in her various age-related pains from acupuncture — and there have been plenty of recent human studies indicating that it has a lot more than just placebo effects. The Candace Pert anecdote provides the first convincing clue I’ve seen as to HOW it may work.
I’m also with pharniel. I have a herniated disk in my neck that causes numbness in my hands and blurry vision. I didn’t do anything about it for 6 months (as it got continually worse) because both MD’s I saw said I needed major surgery. I ended up going to a chiropractor, and started improving that day. I went 3 times a week for about a month and was completely better. $360 seems very good, all things considered.
As fond as I am of bashing hippy bullshit cystal therapy oat-bran remedies, remember that asprin comes from willow bark and was the result of thousands of years of medicine-man experimentation, from the ancient Greeks onwards. After all, the origin of medicine, like any science, was primitive trial and error. MDs like to be snooty about this stuff, which is understandable given some of the ‘theories’ of natural medicine proponents, but sad considering the potential benefits of cross-polination.
The rank partisanship and ass-covering displayed by various factions of the medical profession can be really alarming at times. Hell, look at psychiatry and psychology- one is somehow inherently better at understanding the workings of the brain because he also knows how to cure foot fungus and give you an apendectomy, while the guy (or girl) who spent four years only studying said brain can’t prescribe medicine and gets looked down on by the profession in general as being somehow inherently inferior.
But then, that’s what humans do- bias themselves for retarded, self-involved reasons. Sigh.