Margaret A.WinkerMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Interim CoeditorIndividualAuthor
To the Editor: There are 2 kinds of
acupuncture. One is a modern procedure based on scientific data, the
other is a mystic ritual of ancient Chinese metaphysics. Dr Shlay and
colleagues1 used the second type and found it to be no
better than placebo. Such acupuncture is the kind practiced by the
10,000 mostly nonmedical acupuncturists in the United States.
Chinese needle acupuncture is explained by 3000-year-old prescientific
theories. Illness is supposedly caused by blockages of Qi,
"the elixir of life," traveling in 12 hypothetical meridians
corresponding to the Chinese 12 divisions of the day. Needles are
selectively placed in 365 acupoints, 1 for each day of the year,
following laws of the 5 elements, wood, water, fire, metal, and earth.
Acupuncture unblocks Qi, thus curing illness and restoring the
balance of yin and yang.
Ulett GA. Acupuncture and Amitriptyline for HIV-Related Peripheral Neuropathic Pain. JAMA. 1999;281(14):1270-1272. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-281-14-jac90002