Science-Based Medicine -- Acupuncture Does Not Work for Back Pain
The methodology is interesting. They had three groups of people receiving acupuncture. One group had the needles applied to the suggested meridian points, following all the usual methods. One group had needles applied willy-nilly. And the third group were actually pinched and poked with toothpicks. They all performed the same.
. . . Imagine if we were evaluating the efficacy of a new pain drug. This drug, when tested in open trials (no blinding or control) has an effect on reducing pain - it is superior to no treatment. When compared to a placebo, however, the drug is no more effective than the placebo, although both are more effective than no treatment.
Now imagine that the pharmaceutical company who manufactures this drug sends out a press release declaring that their drug is effective for pain, but that their research shows that a placebo of their drug is also effective (FDA applications are pending). Therefore more research is needed to determine how their drug works. Would you buy it?
That is the exact situation we are facing with acupuncture research.