I read with interest the article by Warner Seem regarding the integration of research into the acupuncturist's practice ("Making Research Practical: New Research Services in the Works," November 2004).
Western-trained, my first impression was, "Good ... the medical doctors and lawyers will require this of us to communicate." Eastern-trained, I chuckled.
If I may, I'd like to offer some insight based on experience of 20 years of clinical practice regarding research, medical doctors, lawyers, insurance companies, and patients.
The medical doctors will want to talk research. They always say (in a cavalier tone), "Where is your science? Where is you double-blind, placebo-controlled research?"
The lawyers say, "What is your science? Bring me your research." You will deal with lawyers during automobile crash cases and malpractice.
The insurance companies don't care about your research. They manage money. Their job is to make money, not pay it out. (Don't do business with insurance companies. It's a waste of your qi.)
For the most part, patients don't care about your research. They just want to feel getter and go play golf, dance, or lift their grandkids. Generally speaking, most patients do not request your acupuncture research.
Chinese medical doctors laugh at the Western medical doctors who criticize us for needing more research to validate acupuncture. Thousands of years of history, experience, positive results, refinement, observation, etc., have led us to today's acupuncture. The Western medical doctors will try to control and suppress acupuncture in one way by saying it has little Western-model research to prove its effectiveness.
Western medicine is mechanistic and reductionistic. Acupuncture and other natural health care practices, like herbology, naturopathy and chiropractic, are empirical and vitalistic. The two styles don't mix. There will always be a separation of the two methods of health care. Each is critical of the other. And yet, both systems have some merits and some flaws. Sound familiar? For further definition on study on this concept, seek the author, Harris Coulter, a medical historian.
Here's some advice for my fellow acupuncturists: Don't feel down and suppressed if a Western medical doctor uses that "show me your research" line. The medical doctors live and die by those research documents they spew out at an alarming rate.
Speaking of research, the research industry has lost much credibility. There is research published and research professionals who can be paid to write and say anything these days. Research can be found to support any angle of a health care position - and if you, the natural health care professional, comes up with research contrary to a Western medical view on health, they call it "junk science." Go figure.
Thousands of years of acupuncture refinement and repeated success with patients will carry you. Debating research with a medical doctor will squander your qi, which is better served treating your patients.
Mark Dirck, DC, DIACA, FASA Independence, Missouri
Finding a "Gem" of an Article
My name is Angela Johnson. I'm a second-year student at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in Chicago, Illinois. I was reviewing several articles on your Web site this morning, and wanted to thank you for publishing the "Needle Techniques" articles by Skya Abbate.
This new journey to study traditional Chinese medicine is extremely exciting, but oh-so-overwhelming. I often find myself asking, "Am I ever going to get this?" I know this will be a lifelong learning process, but gathering the little gems offered in articles such as the ones written by Dr. Abbate are priceless, and I thank you (and her) for sharing the knowledge. More articles like this would be fabulous.
Angela Johnson Chicago, Illinois
Kudos for "The Tao of Venus"
I thoroughly enjoyed the article on "The Tao of Venus" from the October 2004 issue - an extremely refreshing experience reading about compassionate feminine energy. The words embraced me into an arena of love and beauty; I wish the article were longer, or even a short novel. Kudos to authors Mary Elizabeth Wakefield and Michel Angelo.
Kathleen Amato, RN, DOM, MS Coconut Creek, Florida
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