Your Effort to Educate People of Risks and Benefits Is Clearly Biased

March 25, 2008

I just read your article Be Wary of Acupuncture, Qi Gong, and “Chinese Medicine. I was disappointed to find that you put so much energy into pointing out the flaws and risks associated with acupuncture without acknowledging the benefits that thousands of people have enjoyed. The language that you have used throughout the article highly suggest that acupuncture practitioners treat dubious conditions that under the microscope of western medicine do not exist. In fact, most people do not go see a medical doctor until sub-clinical signs have long turned to alarming symptoms and the nature of their “non-disease” has progressed to maturity. It is therefore fair to say that careful observation and analysis of sub-clinical complaints, such as mild discomfort or even the subjective experience that something is not right can lead to the prevention of disease by seeking medical advice. That is not to say that I suggest patients to seek acupuncture intervention for life-threatening diseases. All healthcare providers have the responsibility to know the scope of their practice and refer when indicated. This requires training and certification through national licenser. This is already in place. You have failed to mention that in your article, damaging the image of acupuncturists who safely practice and adhere to their scope of practice.

You also failed to mention the notion of non-responders in western medicine as well. As with any medical model, there are responders and non-responders. There are folks that do not find relief with acupuncture, as there are folks who doctors cannot do anything about. Both have their limitations. I think the reader deserves to be aware of this as well.

Although I commend your effort to present data objectively. Your effort to educate people of risks and benefits is clearly biased. Your claims of dubiousness or quackery of acupuncture have little or no weight through the eyes of many of satisfied patients. And your attempt to legitimize your presentation with scientific data is flawed. As you may be aware, there is little “scientifically reliable” data that supports or disproves acupuncture. Most researchers design their trials based on the improvement of symptoms, and forget to factor patient satisfaction. In fact, there have been studies that have shown that patient satisfaction does not necessarily depend on the improvement of symptoms rather because of an acquired understanding of their disease. This is called patient empowerment.

Don’t forget that acupuncture was developed over thousands of years based on empirical data. Another way to say that the art and tradition of acupuncture has matured over thousands of years of experimentation. If it didn’t work, it wouldn’t exist today.

I petition for you to remove your article OR allow readers to comment and publish their ideas in response to your article.


Thank you for your time,

Lincoln Tran
Clinical Acupuncture Intern
Tai Sophia Institute

This page was posted on March 25, 2008.