Why Most Acupuncture Research is a Sham

Below is a section of an article from AcupunctureToday.  The full article can be read here:

emphases added -ed



True needling consists of actual penetration of the needle with manual stimulation, whereas sham needling is carried out by a special needle which touches the skin but may only penetrate superficially or touch the skin’s surface. In cases of both true and sham, the de qi phenomena is reported and the subject feels the needle at the point of contact.

Superficial needle stimulation is a known and accepted acupuncture procedure within a variety of European and Asian-American acupuncture techniques. Within acupuncture research, however, it is considered a placebo. Conclusions will be drawn and reported as such to an unsuspecting public. These sham acupuncture needles, which are internationally accepted and referred to as Streitberger or Park needles, are used by virtually every researcher conducting studies within the area of acupuncture. It is the standard for the scientific industry. This fact alone makes any research using this needle procedure a “sham,” as it is ignores that nonpenetrating acupuncture is a valid technique.

Recently, a major research institute attached to a very prominent university received a grant to conduct acupuncture research. They chose as their topic the treatment of colitis and diverticulitis via acupuncture. They sought my input and expertise into the matter. To say I was honored and humbled would be an understatement. When I inquired as to my role, I was shocked to learn they wanted to know “what points do you treat for this condition?”

They did not have a clue what acupuncture was. They only wanted to know what points to use for gastrointestinal distress. I reminded them that was a very general condition with many potential causes. I advised against using federal funds to finance such a study since their final results would be flawed. They were totally unaware of pulse, tongue diagnosis, system review or electromeridian imaging through ryodoraku. When I asked what was their goal for the research, I was told “to determine if acupuncture was effective in gastrointestinal distress.”

It is very apparent that those who are conducting what would otherwise be considered valid and scientific research at extremely impressive and recognized institutes are in fact guilty of the highest malfeasance with the models they have chosen to use regarding the effectiveness of acupuncture. Unfortunately, the general public and the scientific community regard research from these sources as gospel and would never question the validity of these studies.

Acupuncture research conclusions cannot be accepted as long as the research is being conducted as shown in the examples I cited. True blind or double-blind studies may essentially be impossible within acupuncture research due to the fact as long as a patient is able to feel a sensation at the point of needle contact (whether actual or simulated), it cannot be considered a valid blind study. The methods utilized in most acupuncture research are without question, a “sham.”

The full article can be read here:


The reason the author knew that their results would be flawed is that Chinese Medicine does not aim to treat symptoms as its primary goal.

The primary goal is to recognize the root cause of the symptoms and direct treatment to the root, even if the treatment must concurrently address the symptoms directly.

Yet the cause of Diverticulitis is not understood by WM, and Colitis has many different causes.  Different causes require different acupuncture points.  Yet the researchers want simply to use Acumoxa points to treat gastrointestinal distress.  Further, even under the same single cause, different patients may require different point protocols depending on a variety of factors about the individual.

I believe the root problem here is that WM wants to use Acupuncture like a Western drug, instead of use Acupuncture as it has been used for 3,000 years.

Depression, for example, can be addressed in WM by administering Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s).  This allows for the brain’s serotonin levels to remain higher than they normally do.  Yet low serotonin levels are not the cause of the patients depression; they are a symptom, an expression, of a root pathology.  Chinese Medicine looks at “depression” as one symptom of an underlying pathology – not the pathology itself!

Just as WM uses single-action drugs to handle symptoms, so too they would like to use acupuncture as a single-action modality for addressing symptoms.  This is antithetical to the foundations of the CM theories and ethics.  Of course the research will be flawed.

Let’s say you asked a top chef to advice you on cooking a good stew for your family.  You spend millions of dollars setting up the kitchen, buying the best pots and pans and stoves.  Finally you’re ready to prepare and cook the stew, and you’re only question to the chef is,  “Now, where’s your ‘Good Stew Spice’?”

There is no such thing as a Good Stew spice in medicine.  Good stew is the culmination of frying the vegetables, slicing the meat, cooking with the right temperature for the right duration of time, etc.  All of that combined, holistically, creates a good stew.  So too with a patient’s health.

Just as spices alone do not make good stew, treating symptoms alone does not make true treatment.  Yet this is how the top research organizations are approaching acupuncture.  Not only is this a sham, it is a shame of great proportions.


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