Thursday, April 8, 2010

Trying Acupuncture

UCSD runs three free clinics around the city. Besides providing free medical care to people who can't get it elsewhere, it also gives medical students a great early opportunity to put what we're learning into action.

The clinics provide a host of other services, medical and otherwise, including dental services, legal, etc. One service they provide is acupuncture. As a skeptic, what little I know about acupuncture is that well-controlled studies can't even disprove the null hypothesis (see this article at Steven Novella's blog).

It turns out the acupuncturists will do their magic not just on patients but on volunteers as well. Granted, my individual experience from one (or a few) sessions won't prove anything, but I can't help but be curious, and at the very least I haven't read a lot to suggest that there is a possibility of actively injuring me, and I have a very minor back issue that seems like it's tailor-made for acupuncture. After all, it would be great if we had something relatively cheap, like acupuncture, that could effectively control pain - I think we would all like it to work. But the evidence is that it does not. I was pretty open with the clinic directors that I thought it wasn't medicine and I'll also let the acupuncturist know that here's their chance to convert a skeptic! (Granted, this might be the same urge that makes me want to climb Mt. Ararat just to tell people "Been up there; no boat.") The session will be, at soonest, two weeks from now. I'll report back then.

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