Kristen Sparrow • March 05, 2013
A few patients asked me to comment on this article. It doesn’t say anything of note except to discuss the new clinic in, ahem, CHINATOWN. But the article uses the same mealymouthed wording that I’m getting sick of “experts disagree” etc… But in spite of my quibbles, I’m extremely pleased that acupuncture is becoming more mainstream. That’s what I’m all about after all.
In 2002, 2 million U.S. adults used acupuncture, according to the National Health Interview Survey. In 2007, that figure rose to an estimated 3 million people.
Bay Area businesses are capitalizing on that demand. By setting up shop a few blocks from the Financial District, Chinese Hospital hopes to attract customers who, like Germano, have never tried the therapy.
Two years ago, Highland Hospital in Oakland began to offer acupuncture, becoming what it believes is the first public medical center in the U.S. to do so. The waiting list is two months long.
But despite how mainstream the treatment has become, experts still clash over whether its perceived benefits are valid.
“There’s still a lot we do not know,” said Maria Chao, a UCSF assistant professor who specializes in complementary and alternative medicine.
Over the last few decades, many Western physicians have joined acupuncture practitioners in their belief that the therapy helps patients with conditions as varied as arthritis, cancer and infertility. But skeptics contend that any sense of healing is likely a placebo effect. (Hello, animal studies?? Are they placebo too?ks)
The treatment is widely used to treat chronic pain, and in a study published in October in the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers determined that it helped nearly 18,000 patients with back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headaches and shoulder pain.
After analyzing 29 randomized controlled trials, the researchers found that patients who received acupuncture for each condition reported feeling less pain than those who received no acupuncture.
They also felt less pain than those who underwent sham acupuncture, which involves inserting needles in spots that aren’t supposed to cure the intended condition or aren’t acupuncture points. That difference indicates that true acupuncture is “more than a placebo,” the authors said.