A scathing email from an M.D. was the first clue I had that my article on acupuncture for Baby Boomers had been published:
Your article on acupuncture was little more than an advertising piece for the featured person. Virtually none of the benefits you site have any scientific validation. The idea that acupuncture can in effect produce a facelift is beyond belief. There is not one shred of credible evidence anywhere that acupuncture is anything more than a counter irritant. You have a responsibility as a writer to write article that are factual or at least explain that the scientific community disputes virtually every claim that acupuncture makes.Or you need to identify that your article is an advertisement(puff piece) Acupuncture was brought to this country after Nixon visited China in the 1970’s. since then it has had virtually no significant impact on healthcare simply because it is at best a creative placebo. Try to be at least balanced next time.
I reprint his email verbatim, complete with typos. As to the charge that the article wasn’t “balanced,” I plead guilty as charged. The article was written for a publication called The Good Life, and it’s not investigative reporting. As for a “shred of evidence” that acupuncture is effective, my source for the article sites the current issue of Minnesota Physician.
But here’s the bottom line: I was introduced to acupuncture through my cat Shirley. At age 15, right before Christmas one year, she had what appeared to be a stroke. She lost her sense of balance, was nauseated, couldn’t walk, crawled under the guest bed and hid. I spent two days laying on the floor next to the bed, petting her, waiting for the holiday to be over so that I could call my wonderful vet, Nancy Balto, to come to the house and do the euthanasia.
By December 26, Shirley was still alive, although still unable to walk without staggering. Nancy said it might be a brain tumor, but it might also be something called a vestibular, which, she said, responded well to acupuncture. She suggested we give it a try. “You’re going to stick needles in Shirley?” I asked. Shirley was the alpha cat, prone to back-handing her two much larger brothers on her way through the room for no apparent reason.
Nancy came over and we corralled the cat in the living room–happily, that wasn’t difficult since the cat couldn’t run away. Nancy put the needles in. Shirley went into what I can only describe as a Zen trance. Her eyes were closed. Her body was still and relaxed. Twenty minutes later, Nancy took the needles out. Shirley woke up and walked out of the room–still wobbly, but noticeably improved. Nancy did three more treatments, and Shirley lived five more years. She always had a bit of a head tilt, and she could not longer perch on top of the refrigerator, but she had a happy, full life.
Obviously, I was never able to think of acupuncture as a “creative placebo,” because cats don’t really know what a placebo is. When I had a spasm in my back, I went in for acupuncture, and one treatment nailed it. I had a series of peri-menopausal treatments, and I recently used acupuncture to get me through a stressful period of my life.
If you want my “balanced” perspective, it’s this: Acupuncture restored balance to Shirley, my cat. And that made a believer of me.