Sticking needles in someone’s body is not a placebo therapy, or at least not an effective one, argue two letters in today’s issue of Archives of Internal Medicine. From personal experience I’d argue that the critics got this call right.
Last year, a paper in Archives described findings from a randomized, multicenter program to treat chronic lower back pain. In it, Michael Haake of the
Writing in a second letter, researchers from the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil, offer a different spin. Because the sham acupuncture sites were as beneficial as the test sites, they constituted “neither an inert nor innocuous procedure” – which is what a placebo should be. The latter is something I learned the hard way. I’m a long-time migraine sufferer and four years ago my neurologist offered me a chance to enroll in an acupuncture trial at
Haake, M., et al. 2007. German Acupunctue Trials (GERAC) for Chronic Low Back Pain. Archives of Internal Medicine 167(Sept. 24):1892.
Wand, B.M. and N. O'Connell. 2008. German Acupuncture Trials for Chronic Low Back Pain. Archives of Internal Medicine 168(May 12):1011.
Li, S.M., J.M. Costi, and J.E.M. Teixeira. 2008. Sham Acupuncture Is Not a Placebo. Archives of Internal Medicine 168(May 12):1011.
Endres, H.G., A. Molsberger, and M. Haake. 2008. In Reply. Archives of Internal Medicine 168(May 12):1012.