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Independents' Day

Acupuncture course taught me it's a sham

I couldn't agree more with Dr Euan Lawson ('Is acupuncture a sham?').

Several years ago I qualified as an acupuncturist. Dr Lawson suggests 'it's time acupuncture be consigned to the sharps bin' - I threw all my acupuncture needles into the sharps bin a long time ago.

Most of the claims made for acupuncture are no more than a placebo effect. On my course

I was most uncomfortable when we were taught to use acupuncture needles on the anterior chest wall meridians - imaginary lines on the body - to treat asthma.

Several other meridians were designated to represent internal organs such as the kidneys, lungs, brain, heart, liver and so on. The tutors claimed acupuncture could be used to treat almost all diseases we encounter.

Most of the teaching was done by non-medically qualified acupuncturists, who had the best of intentions but no real medical knowledge of the diseases we treat. Some students - qualified doctors, to my dismay - attending the course were immediately brainwashed with the wonder that was acupuncture.

Most of my patients who have had acupuncture in a pain clinic or at the physiotherapy department have told me it was a waste of time. On the other hand, if these patients had gone to see a non-NHS acupuncturist and had paid from their pocket for each session, would they have found it useful, I wonder?

Just because acupuncture has been around for 4,000 years doesn't mean we should accept it. When we know it is nothing but a sham we should say so. For the NHS to spend money on acupuncture is a scandalous waste of taxpayers' money. It should be scrapped right now.

From Dr Anand Deshpande, Westhoughton, Lancashire


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