Go East and you will find completely different cultures. This is not just language. There are major societies out there where the way in which people behavior is alien to our expectations in the most unexpected ways. One of the most interesting is the difference in medicine. For two and more centuries, Traditional Chinese Medicine has been the main source of treatment.
Although Western medicine has been making some inroads, we have arrived at a balance in the larger cities where the two systems run side by side. Not just in China, but in many parts of Asia, the traditional forms of medicine are considered more effective than our approach. So whether you pick TCM or ayurvedic medicine in India, you are looking at a highly developed practice with two thousand and more years of experience.
Rather than take a confrontational approach, the West has been slowly evaluating many of the ideas from all these major disciplines. One of those considered most interesting is acupuncture. The problem for western researchers is that the body diagrams showing the key points for acupuncture purposes does not seem to match the West’s view of the peripheral nervous system.
It’s therefore difficult to draw direct comparisons between the two views of how the body works. What does seem true, however, is that the procedure of inserting needles into people works very well in China and Asia generally. The West prefers to think of this as a massive placebo effect, i.e. that the belief in the system is so strong, everyone acts as if they feel no pain when the needles are inserted. That’s why it can be used instead of a general anesthetic for surgery.
Putting aside the idea of people being awake during surgery, Western practitioners take a practical view. Even though there may not be research evidence proving how it works, there’s no doubt that, for many people, it is an effective form of treatment.
There have been small-scale research tests on the treatment of lower back pain, and it has proved that the use of needless or other sharp object to prick the skin, was effective to relief pain over long periods of time. Scientists mock these results as showing that fake acupuncture is just as effective as real acupuncture, but this misses the point. For many people, both fake and real acupuncture was more effective than the western equivalent of massage therapy.
So rather than have a negative view of acupuncture in particular and traditional medicine in general, we should have an open-minded approach to the treatment of pain. If you find something that works for you, this is a good thing. If you find nothing works, there’s always Ultram.
In this respect, the western pharmaceutical industry has managed to produce some remarkably effective drugs. As we know, Ultram blocks pain messages and prevents people from being aware of moderate to severe pain. However, when you weigh up the relative costs of the treatments, you might get more relief for your money from the alternative methods. Just a thought.