The First in a Recurring Feature —
As I was leaving an Acupuncture Advisory Board meeting I had a brief discussion with a Medical Acupuncturist (an MD who does acupuncture) who had attended the meeting as an observer. It left me pondering one of the “truths” trotted out whenever acupuncturists talk about non-LAcs using acupuncture (and even sometimes when folks from one acupuncture lineage talk about a different tradition) – that treatment from “one of those” practitioners might reduce pain and symptoms and the patient might feel better, but, because the underlying imbalance wouldn’t be treated, the patient would be harmed.
I’ve heard it said about PT’s doing dry needling, and in the past I’ve said it myself about Medical Acupuncturists. In the conversation I was having, the Medical Acupuncturist said he had concerns with patients going to LAc’s if they hadn’t first been seen by an MD. After all, he said, in what I’m sure he thought was a respectful and honoring way, you guys are SO GOOD at treating pain, you could mask an underlying serious condition.
I set aside my immediate desire to respond, hey, that’s what we say about you because your acupuncture training is so pathetic (yes, old habits die hard). I tucked away for future action my shame that after all these years we LAcs haven’t done a better job educating and connecting with the MD’s who respect and use our medicine. (No doubt they have much to teach us about things like participating in Medicare and could be allies in some of our political work.) And I have continued to ponder this idea that acupuncture, done by anyone, could really treat symptoms well while leaving a festering problem untouched. Can this happen? Does it? I mean sure, maybe for a week or two, but isn’t one of the underlying teachings of our paradigm that if we don’t treat the underlying imbalance the problem will continue to reveal itself?
I’ve begun to think that this belief is nothing more than a Sacred Cow. What do you think? I don’t need to hear about MD’s missing medical diagnoses, or about the harm done by western treatments. I’m looking for the specifics in which acupuncture treatments relieved symptoms but did not address the underlying imbalance, thereby doing harm.