Placebo vs Acupuncture

In the United States, it seems that using herbs as an alternative medication is more common. In Korea, it is common and wide-spread to have Korean acupuncture as an alternative medication. These days, in Korea, it is a rising social convention whether the government should approve Korean acupuncture service providers to use modern high technology medical devices. To legitimately provide medical service in Korea the providers must have a medical license recognized by the Korean government, and acupunctures are recognized as an alternative medical service. Acupuncture and modern medical service are collaborating in a growing business with otolaryngology and rehabilitating therapeutic service.

Let me briefly introduce how acupuncture works and what kinds of knowledge it is based on. Strictly speaking, acupuncture is NOT a scientifically proven method of treating patience. It is more of case-based and accumulated knowledge from hundreds years of practicing whether patience is relieved from pain or symptom. It is more of healing from stimulating self-immunization. For example, if I have hard time breathing due to congestion in the nose, they would say your body type is a hot and dry one you should drink this cold type herbal medicine to maintain the balance. Many people say it worked.

However, acupuncture also should go through medical trials to prove their acupuncture can treat more effectively than placebo. There was a trial to see any improvement on back pain after acupuncture, but the result is not so different compared to participants without receiving any medical treatment. Here is the quote from

The article by Artus et al is of particular interest for the problem of back pain. Their Figure 2 shows that there is a modest improvement in pain scores after treatment, but much the same effect, with the same time course is found regardless of what treatment is given, and even with no treatment at all.

It is ongoing progress to scientifically prove acupuncture’s effectiveness on any health improvement. On the other hand, people may say even yawning is not scientifically proven what it does to body and what makes people or animals yawn. In Korea many believe that improvement in science will help achieve the positive health result from acupuncture.



Jisung Yu


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