Alternative Therapy

Alternative medicine is big business and it is estimated that Americans will spend $ 34 billion on a variety of alternative treatments over the course of a single year. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese therapy and is usually considered within the 'alternative medicine' category. The alternative medicine category contains an interesting and diverse group of therapies although not all these therapies are considered legitimate by contemporary modern medical practice; Many are simply strange and consequentially of no theatrical worth (that's right homeopathy, I'm talking about you). Alternative therapies, if they are to be taken seriously, should be able to stand up to scientific and medical scrutiny.


In traditional acupuncture, fine needles are placed in various parts of the body and are rotated or otherwise stimulated. The needles are placed along specific energy channels, or meridians. Acupuncture practitioners contend that meridians contain the body's life force, or chi and the placement of needles along these channels influence the body's energy for the good. There is no space in this article to consider the traditional Chinese approach to disease and how acupuncture can alter physiological processes. It is sufficient to say that most modern medical practitioners would disagree with the traditional Chinese explanation. However, this does not mean that acupuncture has no beneficial medical effects.

Acupuncture- does it work?

Does acupuncture actually work and should it be considered as an effective and legitimate medical treatment? It is important to establish that acupuncture's effectiveness is more than expected over and above the placebo effect. Acupuncture's authenticity can only be established by conducting well designed double blind clinical trials. It will not do for adherents of acupuncture to say that their technique does not respond to scientific scrutiny. If acupuncture can not stand up to the rigors of scientific evaluation then it should be disregarded as an effective therapy.

Practitioners of acupuncture claim that it is a useful therapy for a range of medical conditions. Most studies have focussed on whether acupuncture is an effective treatment for the management of pain. Acupuncture has been proposed as a treatment for drug addiction, asthma, epilepsy and depression, to name but a few. Although acupuncture has been thoroughly investigated by medical research bodies there is little evidence to suggest that it is an effective treatment for anything. There is some evidence which supports the contention that acupuncture helps in the management of pain however, it is no more effective than medically prescribed analgesics.

Acupuncture and Quit Smoking

This article is specifically concerned with the question: acupuncture to stop smoking- is it effective? Acupuncture practitioners say it helps to reduce nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms. We can not rely on so called evidence given by acupuncture practitioners for a variety of reasons. Firstly, their accounts of the effectiveness are anecdotal and do not qualify as medical evidence. Secondly, their testony will be biased, consciously or unconsciously. As mentioned previously, this is big business and acupuncture professionals are very likely to say that their therapy is not effective, especially as their life is at stake. There have been a number of independent clinical studies looking at acupuncture to stop smoking and sadly I have to say that I have not found any evidence to support the case that acupuncture to stop smoking is effective.

Of all the alternative therapies, acupuncture, at least to me, seemed to hold promise as an effective treatment. At least there appeared a sound physiological basis for the technique; certainly inserting needles into the body must have some effect! But the best of current medical evidence does not support this notification, certainly with regard to acupuncture to stop smoking. This is why it is so important to apply scientific methodologies to acupuncture, or for that matter any medical treatment, because after all, we all have our own prejudices and subjective bias.