Just as there has been a growing demand for Traditional Chinese Medicine in America in recent years, there has been a growing demand for related research. This raises challenges, though, because Chinese and Western medical thought differ so radically in their fundamental approaches.
Western medicine is reductionist, seeking to "zoom in" and focus on pathomechanisms of specific symptoms; Chinese medicine is holistic, seeking to "zoom out" and see a larger landscape of interrelated systems. Chinese Medicine incorporates diet, lifestyle, environmental, and psychological factors that greatly complicate research study design. When you add TCM's less tangible but equally important factors of mind and spirit to the mix, the limitations of conventional methodology become apparent. The dilemma is similar to that of quantum physics, whose principle truths are unable to be measured according to Newtonian rules.
Keeping in mind the inherent limitations, there are certain aspects of Chinese Medicine that can be scientificaly studied, and there are many dedicated researchers in the field working to design quality studies in this challenging setting. A small sample of studies supporting the efficacy of Traditional Chinese Medicine are listed here. Remember when reading them that there is much more to Chinese Medicine, and to wellness, than "cause" and "effect." A study designed to focus on arthritis, for example, may completely miss improvements in sleep, energy levels, and immune function that arise from TCM treatment of the arthritis. The forest is just as important as the trees!
Research Reviewed by John Golden Acupuncture
Evaluating research takes time and diligence; additional studies will be added to the list as they are reviewed.
Conclusions: Acupuncture according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, but not sham acupuncture, after 6 weeks of treatment significantly lowered mean 24-hour ambulatory blood pressures; the effect disappeared after cessation of acupuncture treatment.
Conclusions: Current preliminary evidence suggests that acupuncture given with embryo transfer improves rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation.
Conclusions: This study paradigm allows for controlled and blinded clinical trials of acupuncture. We found that acupuncture significantly improved symptoms of fibromyalgia. Symptomatic improvement was not restricted to pain relief and was most significant for fatigue and anxiety.
Conclusions: Acupuncture is more effective than medication in reducing the severity and frequency of chronic headaches, according to a new analysis conducted by Duke University Medical Center researchers.
Conclusions: Using acupuncture before and during surgery significantly reduces the level of pain and the amount of potent painkillers needed by patients after the surgery is over, according to Duke University Medical Center anesthesiologists who combined data from 15 small randomized acupuncture clinical trials.
This is just a small representation of acupuncture-related research; much more can be found by visiting the following sites: