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October 2021

South Med J. 1998 Dec; 91(12): 1115-20.

Traditional and evidence-based acupuncture: history, mechanisms, and present status.

Ulett GA, Han J, Han S.

University of Missouri, Columbia, USA.

BACKGROUND: In 1983, the Southern Medical Journal advised its readers that a scientific basis might underlie the popular practice of ancient Chinese acupuncture. Recent studies have proven this to be correct, and a 1997 National Institutes of Health consensus panel recommended acupuncture as a useful clinical procedure. METHODS: Pertinent articles in the literature were reviewed, including our own research. Significantly, we had access to recent important studies from China. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Most of the 10,000 acupuncturists in the country today practice metaphysically explained "meridian theory" acupuncture using needles to supposedly remove blockages of a hypothesized substance "Qi." Scientific research has shown that healing is not by manipulating Qi but rather by neuroelectric stimulation for the gene expression of neuropeptides. Needles are not necessary. Evidence-based neuroelectric acupuncture requires no metaphysical rituals. It is a simple, useful clinical tool for pain modulation and other conditions and can be easily taught to physicians.

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