does have real health benefits, two separate studies have found. German
scientists tested the therapy by treating one group of patients with acupuncture
and another with a fake procedure designed to simulate it's feel. Those
patients who received the real therapy showed much bigger improvements
in their health.
The fake therapy was administered using a "placebo"
needle which, like a theatrical dagger, retracts into the handle when pressed
on to the skin. The patient feels a pinprick and "sees" the needle being
inserted, but there is no real acupuncture taking place.
Konrad Streitberger, an anesthetist at the University
of Heidelburg who invented the placebo needle, said: " it helps differentiate
the physiological effects of the needle from psychological effects," he
Dr. Streitberger's team, whose research is reported
in New Scientist Magazine, used the needle on patients with rotator
cuff tendinitis, a painful shoulder problem. Of 52 patients, 25 were given
acupuncture and the rest received the placebo. After eight sessions, the
first group showed much bigger improvements. Dr. Streitberger hopes to
confirm the effects in trials with patients suffering from other diseases.