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August 13, 1973

Osler on Acupuncture

Author Affiliations

Gracie Square Hospital New York

JAMA. 1973;225(7):749. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220340053024

To the Editor.—  The following description of "acupuncture" by Sir William Osler1 may be of interest."For lumbago acupuncture is, in acute cases, the most efficient treatment. Needles from three to four inches in length (ordinary bonnetneedles, sterilized, will do) are thrust into the lumbar muscles at the seat of pain, and withdrawn after five or ten minutes. In many instances the relief is immediate, and I can corroborate fully the statements of Ringer, who taught me this practice, as to its extraordinary and prompt efficacy in many instances."Apparently the principle utilized was that of local counter-irritation, which would leave only a semantic connection between Osler's practice and that of inserting needles at distant sites—the technique advocated by current acupuncturists.