nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Thursday, April 1, 2010

New Age Medicine Follies: Acupuncture As An Infectious Disease Threat

An editorial in the British Medical Journal (BMJ 2010;340:c1268) discusses the growth of infections due to acupuncture needles.

Acupuncture is one of those cool, New Age therapies that Post-Modern Man likes to believe in.  You will hear anecdotes in praise of it, and uncontrolled experiments that appear to show benefit.

But after 40 years of review by Western medicine, no knock-down scientific evidence exists to show that "promoting the harmonious forces of Qi" is worth a damn.

As one of the world's most popular alternative therapies, you'd think the science would be there--but it isn't.  Like other quackery, it persists on the testimony of individuals, and the purveyors who profit from it.

Critics of acupuncture (and it's other handmaidens:  the fads and fallacies of millenia of human gullibility) are accused of being closed-minded to exploring new alternatives in helping sufferers.  Remember my Medical Quote of the Day about being so open-minded that your brains fall out?  These unshakeable believers have clearly been walking around with empy craniums for a long time.

As an antidote to the silliness of therapies like this, consider the list of complications that have occurred over the years:
skin infections, muscle and bone infections, infective endocarditis, meningitis, endophthalmitis, cervical spondylitis, retroperitoneal abscess, intra-abdominal abscess, or thoracic empyema.
There have been outbreaks of Hepatitis B, and possibly Hep C and HIV (no great evidence yet).

Lastly we have seen new microbial agents become the causative organism of infection in the last few years:  mycobacteria and even MRSA (yes, the dreaded MRSA).

But, you may respond, most of this would not occur if practitioners engaged in proper disinfection and sanitation.  Well, I counter, that would be nice if there were regulatory control over these activities that monitored them.  There aint.

So let's see, we have a "treatment" we can't prove does any good, and we should write regulations to make it less dangerous.  Is that common sense?  How 'bout we just stop doing this nonsense?

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