An Acupuncture study conducted in Seattle, released this month by the Archives of Internal Medicine, that substituted Acupuncture needles with toothpicks to stimulate the meridian points, has Acupuncture physicians and other Natural Health practitioners scratching their heads. The study used pointed toothpicks to stimulate the body's meridian or acupuncture points and the results in pain relief were nearly identical to the cases where acupuncture Needles were used.
"This study missed the point, " said Acupuncture Physician Dr. Christy Giallourakis of the Center for Oriental Medicine in Tarpon Springs, Florida. "The problem with Western studies of Traditional Chinese Medicine is that the person conducting the study has to use experts on the placement of the meridian stimulus so that any results will be accurate. There are 26meridians but there are many, many, Extraordinary points and these points can be inadvertently stimulated by someone who does not understand the system." What is used to stimulate the points has little effect on the outcome of the stimulation. "If you put any kind of stimulation to the point you will have a reaction."
Acupuncture is based on the energy meridians of the body; these meridians are pathways of subtle energy that connect and compliment every organ and function in the body. Along these pathways is an interconnected system of subtle energy that can interrupt pain or enhance sensation depending upon the combinations of stimulated points.
The interruption of pain is an important factor in healing.
The results of this study are hollow and akin to setting out to discover how the use of electric heat, as opposed to gas heat, will influence the temperature at which water boils. The point of stimulation in Acupuncture is the issue, not the device that is used to stimulate the point. In fact, for over 30 years in the USA Shiatsu and Acu-Pressure have been viable body working techniques that have accomplished many of the same victories as has Acupuncture using the finger tips to initiate stimulation of the meridian points.
The needles in Acupuncture have been around for tens of thousands of years because an Acupuncture physician can set needles in a patient and move on to the next patient. The body regulates how much stimulation it is willing to accept and so there is very little chance of damage in leaving needles in for a period of time. While the toothpicks will stimulate the point as well, it is difficult to have one person handle any volume of patients when he is balancing tooth picks on meridian points.
The meridian system is rooted in the East. Marma is the meridian system of Ayurveda, India's ancient natural medicine. It is a held belief that Marma came to China along the trades with Ayurvedic medicine long before written records. Needles are also a feature of Marma. The Chinese took the Marma meridian system and made it understandable across the regional language barriers that have always existed in China. By giving the Marma points numbers, the system was streamlined and improved for the ease of communication and teaching. Over the course of ten or so thousand years the system became the Acupuncture we know today. The proof in the meridian system is in the way the system fortifies the body even when the body is being assaulted by modern medical chemistry.
Here is the research in a basic sneeze...
638 chronic low back pain suffers were assigned to one of four treatment groups for ten session over seven weeks. One of the groups was given treatments using toothpicks that were camouflaged to look like acupuncture needles. Two groups received traditional acupuncture and the fourth group was treated with medication.
The pain relief experienced by members of the groups that were using meridian stimulation was nearly identical. The subjects who received medication alone did poorly. The researchers are now perplexed by the way the system works because another type of stimulus was able to do the same thing as the needles.
"What is good about this study is that it confirms the positive effects of Acupuncture for the relief of pain." Dr. Giallourakis said; although this was not the point of the study.
The research set out to investigate the instrument used to stimulate the points. There was no consideration as to the systemic significances of the meridians. "It is difficult to study the meridian system because it is energy based and energy isn't something you can see. So much of what is good in healing is dismissed by mainstream science because the (fact gathering) system is fixated on a very narrow scope of research. The idea is that if ya can't touch it, it doesn't exist, and this works against the greater good when it comes to healing. If we were more open to cause and effect, you stimulate a point and then record the results, we could do more good." Said Dr. Giallourakis.
The empirical evidence of over ten thousands years of success and the parameters of a system that is older than the written word should account for something. This research did nothing to advance Natural Living Sciences like Traditional Chinese Medicine or Ayurveda (The oldest systems of health maintenance on Earth). There were winners though, all the people in the study who were given meridian therapy walked away with less pain than the participants in the pharmaceutical control group.
What the publication of this study does is to cast a dull wit upon the review board of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The study was coauthored by Daniel Cherkin, an epidemiologist at the Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle and one of the company's big players, he says that the results of his 7 week study tells him that stimulating the meridian points on the surface of the skin may result in the same nerve-related benefits as using needles; or any benefit could be a simple result of the placebo effect. He then goes on to disclaim everything by saying that the results of the study could be a combination of both nerve stimulation and the placebo effect.