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Government-sponsored quackery

I like state Senator Christine Kaufmann (D-Helena). I really do. She has done some good work in the legislature and sponsored some worthwhile bills. Kaufmann has introduced a bill (SB-27) to “Provide for acupuncturist on board of medical examiners“. The bill goes before the Business, Labor and Economic Affairs Committee on Wednesday. The governor appoints 12 members to the medical board, including five members who hold Doctor of Medicine degrees. The rest are professionals in the medical field and two are from the general public.

I’m sorry, but acupuncture is quackery pure and simple, and not medicine. Scientific studies have found that positive results from acupuncture are the result of the placebo effect or are a conditioned response. Acupuncture has been used to treat almost any form of illness or disease including cancer, AIDS, asthma, colds, PTSD, headaches and breast enlargement. Acupuncture reportedly acts by disrupting the flow of “chi” energy through the body although nobody knows what exactly “chi” is. You don’t need to hold an MD to practice acupuncture. Most practitioners have taken a class at the local community college and just want to play doctor. Many studies have shown that acupuncture is no more effective than treatment by sham acupuncture where no needles are inserted, needles are inserted at non-traditional sites or the needles are improperly inserted. Can sticking needles in your body do some good? Probably, if you believe it will. There are many, many reports of the practice easing pain, but I repeat, it’s not medicine.

If we are to have a practicing acupuncturist on the Board of Medical Examiners, what next? Do we include an aromatherapist, homeopath, a faith healer and maybe a Chippewa medicine man? I’m sorry, but this is a really bad, if well-meaning, idea.

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