Look at the list of posts on this site, and it becomes apparent that acupuncture has a problem showing that it’s effective treatment. People looking for any sign of effectiveness can conclude that acupuncture has a role in treating this or that disease, while those who are more skeptical — well, you know.
Researchers from the University of Southampton in the UK suggest that focusing solely on the clinical response to acupuncture (you know, lower blood pressure, fewer hot flushes, pain relief, etc) is not the appropriate result for a clinical trial.
Rather, we need a surrogate marker that proves something more basic happens in response to the needles entering the skin. What is the mechanism of action? What actually occurs that might reflect the effect of acupuncture on the body?
Ultimately, they say, we need a balance between showing efficacy, and showing a mechanism in the body that explains any apparent effect. They suggest neuro-imaging as a way to show “proof” of response to treatment.
They conclude, “A broader view of research is therefore necessary to yield meaningful answers, and we need to look at the whole package that acupuncture delivers.”
We will look for the results of these future studies.
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.