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10:03am on Thursday, 5th May, 2005:



I read an article in The Independent from 1st May that claimed acupuncture is "as good as drugs for treating pain". Doctors did brain scans of people as they used acupuncture on them, except sometimes they used dummy needles instead of real ones. The real needles made the part of the brain that manages pain respond positively, improving pain relief by up to 15%. The dummy needles didn't.

Today, I read another article relating an experiment that tested people's responses to real needles put in random places. 150 or so migraine sufferers were given acupuncture using needles put in the right places and another 150 or so had them put in the wrong places. Both groups had a 50% reduction in the number of days the patients had migraines by the end of the study.

Taking these two experiments together, we can conclude that sticking needles into people reduces pain, but it doesn't matter where you stick them.

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).