Article: How Scientific is Medicine?

How Scientific is Medicine?
by Dr. Robert Kienitz, D.Ac., DTCM

The medical community has, in the past, cautioned the public that acupuncture is not fully scientifically validated and, although hundreds of peer reviewed scientific studies have shown that acupuncture does work, its operational mechanism is as yet unproven. The current scientific explanation for the mechanism of acupuncture is that the insertion of acupuncture needles into the body causes a cortical (brain) reaction that releases certain neurotransmitters.

The neurotransmitters that have been proven in laboratory experiments to be released by acupuncture stimulation are; endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and histamine. Work is currently being done on the relationship with amino acid and other peptide and biogenic amines and acupuncture.

These neurotransmitters are released in a site specific manner, i.e., the stimulation of the point ST-36, below the knees, releases serotonin. That particular neurotransmitter is then attracted to the needle site along the most direct neural pathway. Along the way the neurotransmitter stimulates ancillary nerves and affects their function, as well as that of the direct pathway.

For instance, a needle is placed in ST-36 (Susanli), one of the major points for regulating the digestive function of the stomach. The actual point is on the low leg but the neural pathway the serotonin has to follow goes to and through the stomach. Thus, as the serotonin is being drawn to the needle site on the low leg, it is able to affect the stomach organ.

This mechanism is only partially proven, there may be other factors at work and I will be the first to admit that we do not know the whole story. But I would like to invite the medical community to turn their laser like focus on themselves so that the public can get an idea of how scientific their medicine is.

According to the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment “80-90% of medical interventions practiced by (allopathic) physicians are not scientifically proven”. [1]

In 1991 the British Medical Journal observed that “Only 15% of (allopathic) medical interventions are supported by solid scientific evidence…that is partly because only 1% of the articles in medical journals are scientifically sound and partly because many treatments have not been assessed at all”. [2]

Fewer than half the pharmaceutical drugs found in the Physicians Desk Reference have a proven operational mechanism, most mechanisms are presumed. This lack of scientific verification of allopathic medicine does not seem to cause medical doctors or medical journalists much concern.

I do not propose that we give up the life saving drugs and procedures that are the wonder of modern medicine but I do suggest that blind faith in allopathic medicine is as misguided as blind faith in alternative medicine. Further research is needed in both allopathic and alternative medicines but it is slow going because the expense of research is often prohibitive. If we were to bring the cold eye of science to every aspect of medicine, accepting and using only that which had been fully scientifically validated and proven, we would have very little medicine at all.

1 “Assessing the Efficacy and Safety of Medical Technologies,” Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, 1978, p7.
2 “Where is the Wisdom…?”, Richard Smith, British Medical Journal 303 (1991), pp798-99.