Acupuncture General Somatosensory therapies

Acupuncture and science

Have you ever wondered how sticking a simple needle into someone’s body can possibly cause effects, like preventing migraine, helping with dysmenorrhoea or even alleviating nausea induced by chemotherapy.

I have. And I still do every single day. In fact, I have thought so much about this question that it has become my professional job. Of course my work is more than just thinking. Ultimately, I am designing experiments to unravel some of the mysteries that still surround acupuncture and similar CAM therapies. Although it may seem unlikely, I was a physicist in my former life. Well, I guess, I still am. Physicist is a mindset, rather than a profession. Today, I consider myself more of a neuroscientist. At least the methods I use mostly come from this field. However, I have also studied Traditional Chinese Medicine and know about all these beautiful and unlikely concepts of qi, channels, and acupoints.

The idea to start this blog came when I was writing a research article (one that I still have not finished). There were so many things I had in my head and I wanted to put them all in that paper. I saw this big picture and I wanted the readers to see it, too. But then I realized that there was no way to write a paper like that. My scientific views of the matter are so much influenced by my own experiences. But experiences are of no value in science, as long as they have not been distilled into controlled experiments and systematically analysed. If these experiments have not yet been carried out, however, personal experiences should better be left out of a paper. The sole exception is the discussion section where you may briefly discuss an idea or two. But then the reviewers of the paper may not like them. So in the end many of these ideas simply get lost. I hope that this blog will give me the chance to share some of these ideas with anyone who is interested in the scientific exploration of acupuncture and related techniques. If I get feedback, all the better.

It promises to be interesting because from what I have read there seems to be a huge rift in the blogosphere between conventional and complementary medicine when it comes to scientific exploration. On the one side you have practitioners and advocates of alternative medicine with their often esoteric and parascientific concepts but with tons of experience on the results one can achieve with their therapies. On the other side you have the proponents of conventional (or evidence-based) medicine, some of which will dismiss an entire therapy system because in contains unscientific concepts. However, in a time where medicine gets progressively commercialized their voices are also important to prevent useless and potentially dangerous therapies from spreading.

Hopefully, this blog can engage both sides in the discussion.