Acupuncture versus pain killers versus placebo

A German health insurers made a very big double blind test (314,000 probants) with three settings: 1. acupuncture, 2. something that looked like acupuncture but was in fact lots of hand waving and poking people with needles, and 3. traditional painkillers.

Acupuncture helped about 82 percent of all people where it was applied and relieved chronic pain. Traditional painkillers only helped about 25 percent. So acupuncture looks like the sure winner, right?

And now comes the big surprise: Handwaving and poking people with needles proved to be about as efficient as acupuncture: 81 percent of all people to whom it was applied reported it relieved their pain.

So it looks as if acupuncture is an effective painkiller, but not for the reasons stated. It seems that we need to know more about the actual mechanisms and effects of acupuncture.

For reference here http://www.charite.de/epidemiologie/german/projekte/akupunktur.html

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