The National Institutes of Health just published a very good short article on acupuncture, acupuncture research, what we know and what we don’t.
It features a number of excellent acupuncture researchers discussing the positive work and challenges in acupuncture research.
One of my favorite researchers is Karen Sherman, who researches discusses the challenges of a placebo acupuncture needle and questions if it is possible to create a reliable placebo for acupuncture. Richard Harris also discusses the placebo needling and how placebo studies may reveal some mechanisms of acupuncture. His studies have looked at the physiology of acupuncture and placebo acupuncture in fibromyalgia patients. The clinical studies show that both acupuncture and placebo acupuncture work, but he shows that have very different mechanisms in the brain.
This returns us to the question… What are the theraputic mechanisms of any placebo?