British Medical Association Backs Acupuncture

| March 1, 2010 | 0 Comments | 257 views

The British Medical Association (BMA) published a report on Sunday acknowledging the scientific benefits of acupuncture.

There is reasonable scientific evidence acupuncture is effective for chronic illnesses where sufferers usually take pain-killers for a long period of time,'' said Dr. Vivienne Nathanson, head of Health Policy at the BMA.

These cases include nausea and vomiting, back and dental pain as well as for migraine,'' she added. But there is still debate whether acupuncture is effective for osteoarthritis, and it is ineffective in overcoming the urge to smoke or eat, according to the report entitled ``Acupuncture: efficacy, safety and practice,'' researched by the BMA Board of Science and Education.

We welcome complementary medicines into medical practice but only based on robust research and robust training,'' explained Nathanson.

There is an increasingly artificial divide between conventional and complementary medicine. The National Health Service is becoming more holistic,'' she added.

The report's recommendations include that acupuncture be integrated into the National Health Service, that further research be conducted into the cost of acupuncture and investigation into which other medical conditions it can be used to treat. The BMA also recommends a system of self regulation among physicians and a national regulatory body.

The report calls for improved communication between physicians, acupuncturists and patients. Physicians should inform their patients about complementary therapies suitable for their condition and acupuncturists should not alter physicians' prescriptions without consultation with the issuing practitioner.

Finally, the report recommends undergraduate training in acupuncture at medical schools.

Because patients and doctors are turning to acupuncture in increasing numbers,'' said Nathanson, ``doctors need more information about its safety and medical students need better training while at university to give patients advice.''

The cost of acupuncture may be lower than conventional medicine but many visits are needed for treatment,'' Nathanson noted.

At the moment, acupuncture is available on the National Health Service irregularly throughout the country. We need to create a standardized national service.''

The BMA research found that acupuncture has indirect effects, such as making patients drowsy and so driving after a therapy session should be avoided.

Currently the Department of Health spends 0.08% of its research budget on complementary medicine research.

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