Talk about missing the point!
Researchers studying acupuncture claim they've unlocked the secret of the ancient Chinese treatment--and, what's more, they think they can actually improve it by adding drugs to the mix.
I guess they're not sharp enough to realize that many people turn to acupuncture for pain relief precisely because they don't want meds.
Not only that, but they also seem to have some common misconceptions about acupuncture--and that comes through in the study, which you'll find in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
Researchers poked a group of rodents experiencing "paw discomfort" for about 30 minutes, and found adenosine levels in tissue around the insertion points was 24 times greater after the treatment.
The researchers then claimed that these mice experienced a two-thirds drop in paw pain.
The researchers then boosted adenosine levels without using needles in a second group, and claimed that these mice experienced the same level of relief.
And finally, the researchers also jabbed needles into the paws of mice that were genetically engineered to have no adenosine. These mice, the researchers say, did not get an adenosine boost, proving... well... not much, because the answer isn't in adenosine levels at the insertion points anyway.
If you've never experienced acupuncture for yourself, it's easy to imagine it as, for example, a bunch of needles inserted into the heel to help alleviate heel pain.
But it doesn't work like that.
Acupuncture sites are located throughout the body, not just in the places where you feel pain. Neck pain might be treated with needles in the ankles and wrists, while shoulder pain might be treated with needles behind the knee.
So even if these needles are causing a boost in adenosine at the insertion points, it doesn't explain the real relief people experience at locations far from those spots.
And the relief is real: Studies that have compared genuine acupuncture to a sham treatment where the needles are placed randomly have found that the real thing is far more effective.
In other words, it really matters where you stick those needles. Just don't expect the mainstream to get the point.