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Accurate Public Information

Little Hover Commission 2004

Regulation of Acupuncture: A Complementary Therapy Framework

One critical example is the board's presentation of the scientific evidence regarding the efficacy of acupuncture. The National Institutes of Health found that acupuncture needle therapy is effective for "postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and postoperative dental pain." NIH also stated that it may be appropriate therapy for a variety of other conditions for which there is not yet clear evidence. However, the Acupuncture Board's Web site, fact sheet and consumer brochure implies efficacy for a broad range of ailments. Moreover, those materials do not provide cautionary information to consumers about the limits of what may be expected from traditional Oriental medicine, the need to coordinate with MDs, or how to go about selecting a high quality practitioner.

For example, the board's "fact sheet" goes beyond the accepted research findings for acupuncture, by stating: "There are numerous conditions that acupuncture can treat, including migraines, sinusitis, the common cold, tonsillitis, asthma, inflammation of the eyes, addictions, myophia, duodenal ulcer (damaged mucous membrane in a portion of the small intestine) and other gastrointestinal disorders, trigeminal neuralgia (severe facial pain), Meniere's disease (ringing in the ears coupled with dizziness), tennis elbow, paralysis from stroke, speech aphasia (loss of language abilities due to brain damage), sciatica and osteoarthritis. Acupuncture also has been found to be very effective in the treatment of a variety of rheumatoid conditions, pain management, various addictions, mental disorders and AIDS."118

This broad statement on behalf of California regulators is posited as factual, and yet research findings that meet the standards of the National Institutes of Health, do not support the board's conclusions. Statements that appear in official materials of government agencies are expected to fulfill the highest standard of accuracy because they carry the imprimatur of the State. California consumers should be able to trust that government "fact sheets," especially on medical treatment efficacy, convey only substantiated research findings that have been published in respected peer-reviewed journals. This pattern of communicating is of particular concern given that the mission of the Acupuncture Board is to protect consumers, not to sell the public on alternative health care treatments.



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