Dr. Dean Edell says Acupuncture no Better Than Placebo

Edell-AcupunctureWhile the results of some research in the efficacy of acupuncture has appeared to demonstrate no significant difference between “real” acupuncture and “placebo” acupuncture (where the needle does not penetrate the skin), I applaud many in the medical community who feel that further study is needed to determine the effectiveness of this form of alternative medicine. It’s a good thing they aren’t following in the footsteps of Dr. Dean Edell. He has made up his mind that acupuncture is a sham. According to Dr. Edell, any perceived results are due purely to the placebo effect.

And Dr. Edell persists in his close-minded bias, despite being presented with recent evidence to the contrary.

Dr. Dean Edell is a well-known, voracious researcher on all the latest scientific medical studies. On his talk show he shares his findings, answers questions from callers (he has a very large following), and also provides commentary in his crusade against what he refers to as sham medicine. For the most part I respect his no-nonsense approach and critical thinking skills. He uncovers some of the flaws in many alternative remedies, particularly those promoted by the herbal and vitamin supplement industry. Yet in his resolve to not be duped into buying into “voodoo medicine”, he goes overboard in the other direction and turns a blind eye to any evidence that supports various alternative healing modalities.

His attitude is strikingly demonstrated in one of his recent radio talk shows where he took exception to a news headline that read “Acupuncture Shows Promise for Depression in Pregnancy”. The article was based on a recent study, but Dr. Edell lamented how reporters run with a headline without looking into the facts, and then referred to a quote from one of the researchers in the study where she states “I do not think we can say that our study proves that acupuncture is effective for depression during pregnancy.” See article.

So as far as Dr. Edell is concerned, there was nothing in the study that provided evidence contradicting his assertion that acupuncture results are nothing more than the placebo effect. Case closed.

I took a look at the study and other articles and found out just how far off base the good Doctor is.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine. Conducted by a reputable institution, this was a blinded, randomized, and controlled trial that followed acceptable scientific methods. Yes, one of the researchers, Dr. Rachel Manber, apparently did make that statement about “proof” in an email to Reuters Health, but that says nothing to prove that acupuncture holds no more promise than a placebo. In fact, here are some other statements made by the researchers that Dr. Edell failed to note:

Dr. Rachel Manber, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences –

“This standardized acupuncture protocol could be a viable treatment option for depression during pregnancy.”

Deirdre Lyell M.D., Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology –

“I hope that people will respect the rigorous methodology used in this blinded, randomized, controlled trial and accept the result: Traditional acupuncture was associated with a significant improvement in depression.”

Acupuncture for depression during pregnancy: a randomized controlled trial.

The short acupuncture protocol demonstrated symptom reduction and a response rate comparable to those observed in standard depression treatments of similar length and could be a viable treatment option for depression during pregnancy.

No, this recent study doesn’t prove the validity of acupuncture, but it adds to the growing body of evidence that does support it. Dr. Edell prides himself on being open to what modern research uncovers in the search for truth. Unfortunately, he falls victim to the same syndrome that he applies to others – namely, that people will stubbornly hold on to their beliefs in the face of opposing evidence.

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