Acupuncture good for ‘mystery symptoms’

A recent study by a team from Exeter university has found that acupuncture is an effective treatment for the ‘mystery symptoms’ effecting people who are unable to get a diagnosis. 80 patients were studied, who had a mixture of undiagnosed musculo-skeletal problems, chronic pain, fatigue and emotional problems.

Half of the participants received 12 acupuncture treatments, and the researchers observed that they experienced ”a significant and sustained benefit” from the treatment, and “significantly improved overall wellbeing” compared with the control group.

This is no surprise, when you consider one of the fundamental differences in approach between conventional Western medicine and Chinese medicine – While Western medicine treats diseases, Chinese medicine treats people. What this means in practice is that conventional medicine has little to offer a person whose symptoms do not fit into any 1 particular diagnosis.

On the other hand, in Chinese medicine the diagnosis of a disease is not required, instead the Chinese diagnosis is made on the basis of the overall presentation of symptoms of all kinds (including mental and emotional as well as physical.) This leads to a detailed understanding of the whole person, and a diagnosis of one or more imbalances, which can then be treated by acupuncture, tui na, diet or other means.

It is this detailed method of diagnosing imbalances, and the subsequent treatment that stems from the diagnosis, which makes Chinese medicine such a flexible and versatile form of treatment. Practitioners of Chinese Medicine in the West are quite used to seeing patients with undiagnosed symptoms, and personally I would say that patients such as these make up a large percentage of people who I see in my clinic. This is partially due to the fact that they can often get little help from their doctors, and partially down to the effectiveness of Chinese medicine in being able to help them!