Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Acupuncture and QI

This is from a newsletter I receive each week. Last week the author criticised acupunture with this post;

A couple of weeks ago the Metro Section the Washington Post ran a front page story about a pilot program in a Washington suburb to incorporate acupuncture into the treatment of drug addiction.

There is something called the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association that certifies people to administer acupuncture for drug addiction. As I read this I paused to watch a chiropractor on Good Morning America wrenching some poor women’s neck to lower her blood pressure. It raised mine.

But back to acupuncture: this morning I was sent a notice from the University of Maryland Health Center about it’s acupuncture services. "Originating in China about 5,000 years ago," it began, "acupuncture is the oldest continuously practiced medical system in the world." You might prefer something a little more up-to-date. If my health is involved I want to know what was learned yesterday. It goes on to explain that acupuncture is based on the circulation of qi, "the life-giving energy that circulates along channels to all organs and enables them to function." My own university put this out? There is no qi. It‘s superstitious nonsense. After you stop laughing, check out the health service at your institution. The American health system has completely sold out to this crap.

Kinda surprisingly (considering you have to subscribe to the mail shot) he recieved lots of objections to his dismissal of acupuncture. I'm putting here mainly because although I had heard or 'QI' I didn't know what it meant (in an etymological sense).

You will not be surprised to learn that WN got a lot of disagreement about the item on acupuncture last week. As one reader pointed out, "millions of people have been treated with acupuncture and say it works; scientists should be trying to find out how it works rather than ridiculing it." Look at it this way, an even larger number of people around the world say astrology works. If you think they’re right you’re beyond help. What we need to understand is why people think acupuncture works. If you ask an acupuncturist how it works, the answer is “qi.” What’s qi? I refer you to for a full discussion.

Briefly, dissection was forbidden in ancient China, as it was in the West before about 1500 AD. Beheadings, on the other hand, were common. The carotid artery and jugular veins sticking out of the severed neck looked like empty tubes, and were assumed to be passageways to let air flow through the body. Blood was thought to fill the body cavity. As recently as the late Ming dynasty (1368 – 1644) the arteries were thought to carry air.

Qi is the word for air.