Tuesday, 7 April 2015

different theoretical models underpinning these (apparently) two different types of acupuncture. Osteopathic principals and modern biomedical science

Reflections on integration of Traditional Chinese Acupuncture and Western Medical Acupuncture models

The obvious thing anyone notices here is the quite different theoretical models underpinning these (apparently) two different types of acupuncture.  Are they really different?  Well, that is the question.

So called Western Medical Acupuncture justifies its efficacy according to modern bioscience, and neurology and physiology.   I must admit this does make it easier for me personally, as an osteopath to integrate this acupuncture according to Osteopathic principles. 

However, this also generates food for thought and much reflection, about the type of (osteopathy or acupuncture) treatment given: specific, symptomatic and reductionist  -  versus a more global, integrative, whole-body, whole-person, mind-body-spirit approach.  These principles were those of Andrew Still and the early osteopaths.  The global model is also the principle of traditional acupuncture.

So the differences, as I see it, between the Traditional acupuncture and modern reductionist so called Western Medical Acupuncture models, have a close parallel between the classical osteopathic paradigm (e.g. Andrew Still, Littlejohn, John Wernham) and the more reductionist, orthopaedic, quick-fix kind of osteopathy  (or chiropractic or physiotherapy) as a simplification, a symptomatic treatment, 'only treat where it hurts' type of approach.

I would like to hope that perhaps the Western Medical Acupuncture model might have some scope for the richness and sophistication that we find in Traditional acupuncture.   OK, all beginners have to start somewhere. As beginners in acupuncture (as all clinicians were, once upon a time) we all started with basics, and gradually developed our clinical skills.  But why medics cannot go beyond this primitive cut-down western medical acupuncture model is beyond me.  Perhaps it is a lack of time, or commitment to further study. 

And also the Traditional acupuncture model has to be open to scrutiny, and rigorous evaluation of evidence base.  Indeed it already is, with vast amount of research, and universities in Korea, China, and Japan generating a lot also).  And also admittedly, I'm sometimes a little disappointed with my Traditional acupuncture colleagues, and there being not quite enough modern western biomedical science (a thorough grounding in anatomy, physiology, neurology, pharmacology, rheumatology, orthopaedics, etc) in their training courses.  Although I would like to hope that this is getting better.

So good to try to help integrate these tow models:  the historical richness and sophistication of traditional acupuncture, and modern western biomedical science.  Surely this is a win-win scenario for all.  Let the debate (and friction) continue.

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