Acupuncture – healing method or placebo?

The medical community is divided over the benefits of acupuncture. However, numerous studies prove the healing effect of the Far Eastern “pinprick method” also on the cardiovascular system.
Admit: Acupuncture, with its rather esoteric derivation, hardly fits into the rational-scientific world view of western school medicine. The basis of the procedure is the concept of the life energy Qi, which flows through the body according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The energy channels, i.e. the Qi veins, are called meridians. The small, fine acupuncture needles are placed on these meridians at certain so-called trigger points. In this way, the acupuncturist can control the energy flows in the body.

This concept sounds strange to European medical ears, which is why a large proportion of doctors here still reject acupuncture. But the fact is: acupuncture works. This is confirmed by a multitude of studies as well as by seasoned practitioners.

For example, a 2015 study at California’s UC Irvine Susan Israeli Center for Integrative Medicine showed that acupuncture on the wrist can lower blood pressure. A follow-up study in November 2016 showed that electro-acupuncture can also have this effect. It is based on the release of a messenger substance in the brain that is important for blood pressure. In the same year, a Spanish study was published that proved a significant pain-relieving effect in fibromyalgia.

“Even if we are not yet able to fully explain the effect of acupuncture scientifically, there can no longer be any fundamental doubt about its healing effect,” says the Berlin cardiologist and acupuncturist Dr Frank Beekmann. The heart specialist, who works at the Ambulantes Centrum Berlin in Friedrichshain, is not only familiar with the studies, but has also experienced the effectiveness of acupuncture himself in his many years of practical experience. “The method can be used successfully for a wide range of complaints, from diseases of the respiratory system to sleep disorders, eye diseases and orthopaedic problems.

The “mother of all acupuncture studies”.

Critics of acupuncture like to complain that the quality of the related studies leaves much to be desired. In view of the abundance of studies from various sources, this accusation may be partially justified. In this respect, however, acupuncture advocates can point to the “mother of all acupuncture studies”, which has proven the therapeutic effect. The GERAC studies (German Acupuncture Trials) were carried out from 2002 to 2007 and are still the largest investigation that has been dedicated to the subject according to scientific criteria. Six German universities and more than 500 outpatient doctors participated in the study to find out the effect of acupuncture on low back and knee joint arthritis pain as well as migraine and tension headaches (both chronic). 3,500 patients were treated and observed.

Conclusion: In the case of low back pain and knee joint arthrosis, acupuncture is superior to standard conventional medical procedures, while in the case of migraine it is equal to drug therapy with beta blockers (and their side effects). It was only as a result of this study that acupuncture became a health insurance benefit.