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  Wai Tak Cheung: Acupuncture And Science  
     
  As mentioned before, acupuncture had been used for thousands of years. Often Western medicine claims that acupuncture has not been "scientifically" proven, but to my way of thinking, the long history of successful results proves its effectiveness. Chinese healers have also established standards to judge their own healing methods and this, too, provides age-old and continuing proof of acupuncture's effectiveness. These tools and standards of evaluation may be foreign and incomprehensible to the Western trained doctor or researcher whose point of view is very different. They literally see the world differently. For example, the ancients did not have complicated machinery or a lot of funding for research, so for thousands of years, the practice has been "hands on." Acupuncturists have used their methods on themselves and other humans; we do not use animals for scientific testing and research, although acupuncture is effectively used to treat animals. Chinese Traditional Herbal Medicine similarly developed through self-testing by the experimenter. The cleansing properties of tea, for example, were discovered about 800 B.C. by Sun Noon who tested about fourteen herbs a day in the mountains. He often felt ill, but noticed that eating tea leaves made him feel better, leading him to infer that tea cleansed his body of toxins. It would be difficult indeed to get this sort of information and this kind of inference from an animal.

The relative newness of acupuncture to the Western world has occasioned skepticism. For example, Western medical practitioners sometimes view the positive results of acupuncture treatments as simply a "placebo affect," but for the philosophical and practical reasons mentioned above, we of course disagree. The healing effects of acupuncture have been empirically observed repeatedly over thousands of years. In the West, these thousands of years of observation and the careful honing of diagnostic and clinical knowledge resulting from this observation cannot be repeated quickly, nor dismissed as "unscientific."

For instance, scientific research in China has categorized each of our herbs in ways that Chinese herbalists use to create successful treatment by combining various herbs. When Western medicine looks at herb combinations, however, it cannot find a clear cut chemical "reason" for the herb compound's doing what it appears to do in healing a specific condition. The manner in which Chinese herbs work together is different from what Western researchers understand, so they are skeptical. When I make this point, I am not against the Western healing arts or their methods, I am just saying that they have not been trained in our methods, so it is understandable that they do not see what we see.

In recent years, acupuncture has begun to use methods more understandable to the Westerner. Treatments have been created to work with direct stimulation of the muscles, nerves, and tendons, as well as the meridians. For example, if a muscle is paralyzed or weak, the muscle itself or the nerve to that muscle may be directly stimulated by the insertion of tiny acupuncture needles that may be electrically stimulated.



In China, research has shown that acupuncture and moxibustion stimulate lymph production, white and red blood cell counts, production of endorphins (natural pain killers secreted in the brain), and help regulate blood pressure. Thus, it can be said that acupuncture helps strengthen and normalize the function of the entire body, thereby allowing a diseased part to return to health.


In both the East and West, there is new research being conducted that indicates the brain itself produces specific chemicals (endorphins are one) which are used by the body in innumerable functions. As this research pinpoints more accurately the way the brain controls all body functions, perhaps the more precise answer as to why and how acupuncture works will be found.

As mentioned before, acupuncture had been used for thousands of years. Often Western medicine claims that acupuncture has not been "scientifically" proven, but to my way of thinking, the long history of successful results proves its effectiveness. Chinese healers have also established standards to judge their own healing methods and this, too, provides age-old and continuing proof of acupuncture's effectiveness. These tools and standards of evaluation may be foreign and incomprehensible to the Western trained doctor or researcher whose point of view is very different. They literally see the world differently. For example, the ancients did not have complicated machinery or a lot of funding for research, so for thousands of years, the practice has been "hands on." Acupuncturists have used their methods on themselves and other humans; we do not use animals for scientific testing and research, although acupuncture is effectively used to treat animals. Chinese Traditional Herbal Medicine similarly developed through self-testing by the experimenter. The cleansing properties of tea, for example, were discovered about 800 B.C. by Dr. Sun Noon who tested about fourteen herbs a day in the mountains. He often felt ill, but noticed that eating tea leaves made him feel better, leading him to infer that tea cleansed his body of toxins. It would be difficult indeed to get this sort of information and this kind of inference from an animal.

The relative newness of acupuncture to the Western world has occasioned skepticism. For example, Western medical practitioners sometimes view the positive results of acupuncture treatments as simply a "placebo affect," but for the philosophical and practical reasons mentioned above, we of course disagree. The healing effects of acupuncture have been empirically observed repeatedly over thousands of years. In the West, these thousands of years of observation and the careful honing of diagnostic and clinical knowledge resulting from this observation cannot be repeated quickly, nor dismissed as "unscientific."

For instance, scientific research in China has categorized each of our herbs in ways that Chinese herbalists use to create successful treatment by combining various herbs. When Western medicine looks at herb combinations, however, it cannot find a clear cut chemical "reason" for the herb compound's doing what it appears to do in healing a specific condition. The manner in which Chinese herbs work together is different from what Western researchers understand, so they are skeptical. When I make this point, I am not against the Western healing arts or their methods, I am just saying that they have not been trained in our methods, so it is understandable that they do not see what we see.

In recent years, acupuncture has begun to use methods more understandable to the Westerner. Treatments have been created to work with direct stimulation of the muscles, nerves, and tendons, as well as the meridians. For example, if a muscle is paralyzed or weak, the muscle itself or the nerve to that muscle may be directly stimulated by the insertion of tiny acupuncture needles that may be electrically stimulated.

In China, research has shown that acupuncture and moxibustion stimulate lymph production, white and red blood cell counts, production of endorphins (natural pain killers secreted in the brain), and help regulate blood pressure. Thus, it can be said that acupuncture helps strengthen and normalize the function of the entire body, thereby allowing a diseased part to return to health.

In both the East and West, there is new research being conducted that indicates the brain itself produces specific chemicals (endorphins are one) which are used by the body in innumerable functions. As this research pinpoints more accurately the way the brain controls all body functions, perhaps the more precise answer as to why and how acupuncture works will be found.
 
     
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