I’m not sure how many times it has to be said…
A new study published online in the journal Cancer suggests that any relief acupuncture brings may be the result of a placebo effect.
Researchers followed a group of 47 women being treated with aromatase inhibitors, a breast cancer medication that can cause menopause-like side effects (hot flashes, night sweats) as well as joint and muscle pain. Twenty-three of the women received eight weeks of acupuncture; the rest received eight weeks of something called “sham acupuncture,” where needles are placed on the skin somewhat randomly — not at traditional acupuncture points — and then not actually inserted.
The result? All of the patients reported that their side effects had improved, especially the severity of their hot flashes.
There was no significant difference between the group that had received real acupuncture and the group that had received “sham acupuncture.” So why the improvement in both?
“You could conclude,” study author Ting Bao of the University of Maryland, Baltimore told HealthDay, “that it’s a placebo effect.”
There have been some studies in the past that show a possible positive effect from acupuncture, primarily for treatments such as lower back pain and menstrual cramps but most studies done on the subject of acupuncture have been inconclusive at best.
The placebo effect is the psychological effect from various treatments where you believe the treatment is working, even if there is nothing in the treatment that would constitute any positive healing effects. In addition, lumped into the placebo effect are all the potential biases in the study that lean towards a positive outcome.
Bottom line: Acupuncture isn’t effective.
But, we knew this already.