Dr. Andy

Reflections on medicine and biology among other things

Friday, May 06, 2005

Migranes and Acupuncture

Acupuncture are no better than placebo for prevention of migranes, according to this weeks JAMA (subscribers only, but news story here).

To control for the placebo effect (people getting better because they think they are getting an effective treatment), the study included two control groups. One got "sham" acupuncture where needles were inserted, but not at the key points prescribed by acupuncture theory, the other got no treatment at all (they were placed on a waiting list).

Both the true acupuncture and sham acupuncture groups did better than the no treatment group, but true acupuncture was no better than sham. I suspect much of the benefit of "alternative" medicine is based on the placebo effect and well-designed trials like this will continue to show that. Not that this will dissuade true believers


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