This is a post from my friend Adam. I LOVE it!!! I’ve heard of many people wanting to try acupuncture as a quick cure for dysphagia. I wish people would realize that there is NO quick fix for dysphagia. Thank you Adam!! You can find his blog at www.theslowdog.com.
Every so often I run across some drivel on acupuncture and it’s application to dysphagia. Acupuncture, if you’re not aware, is the prescientific notion that sticking needles in the skin to correct a person’s qi through channels called meridians will have a curative effect on disease. Nevermind the fact that there is no scientific evidence that qi or meridians even exist, let alone that pricking yourself with needles actually improves anything, except formaybe pain; which even then it performs no better than a placebo (I’m hesitant to even say that).
Most people tend to seek acupuncture to alleviate vague symptoms like soreness, fatigue, depression and pain-symptoms that could be indicative of nearly anything-and that relief often time comes from practitioners that promise wellness and other fluffy, ambiguous terms. What is wellness and how is it different from being healthy? I’m not sure, but I’m sure if you asked an acupuncturist, you would be hard-pressed for an answer grounded in reality.
And so it happens, I ran a across a study with some fancy words to dress up the absurdity that is sure to follow: Clinical Study on the Treatment of Stroke Supranuclear Dysphagia by Acupuncture in the Tongue and Pharynx. Looks like the author(s) were in such a rush to get their unbelievable results out to the public that they couldn’t be bothered to have a grammatically correct study title. The weird thing is that there is no author listed, no citation, no publication journal and you have to pay $48 to get this 180 page study via Pay Pal. The only contact I could find was someone named Jack, PhD. Supervisor. WTF. And the website from which this paper comes from is chock full of this crap and doesn’t resemble any type of organization that values science.
Let’s get back to the title. WTF. Are they sticking needles on peoples’ tongues and in their throat? Cause that what it sounds like and that sounds freaking awful. There’s no way I’m purchasing the article to find out, but at least they provide a lengthy abstract. If you’re in the mood for a splitting headache, give this a read (the bold is my own and I’m not even going to worry about the sics, the sheer amount would further confuse this poppycocked writing):
Objective:To compares difference in curative effect through observe different acupuncture programmes that acupuncture treatment on stroke supranuclear paralysis dysphagia,to select the better acupuncture treatment programme,and preliminarily sum up the acupuncture treatment’s characteristics and advntages above this disease,furtherly improve and optimize treatment’s programmes,promote clinical utilization and provide clinical basis to explore the mechanism of stroke supranuclear paralysis dysphagia treatment by acupuncture.Methods:60 cases were randomly divided into the treatment group and the control group,30 cases in each group.In conventional dialectical stroke treatment foundation,The treatment group selects acupuncture points in the region of the tongue and pharynx:lian quan(he gu acupuncture),both sides of lian quan,(the lian quan next 1 inch,both sides),jin jin(prick blood),yu ye(prick blood).The control group selects acupuncture points in distant places:lian quan,tong li(both sides),zhao hai(both sides),san yin jiao(both sides).Two groups of daily acupuncture 1 time,each week 6 times,2 weeks 1 treatment course,after treats two treatment courses to carry on the curative effect appraisal.Results:Each group of own around comparisons has the remarkable statistics significance (P＜0.05),The treatment group total effectiveness reaches 93.3%,The control group total effectiveness reaches 80%.Two groups comparisons have the remarkable statistics significance (P＜0.05).Conclusion:Both two kinds of acupuncture programmes on treatment stroke supranuclear paralysis dysphagia have the curative effect,The treatment group programme is the better acupuncture treatment programme between two groups.It can more effectively improvement swallows function,safe,less money,without the side effect and be worth of promoting clinical utilization.
Make sure you’ve taken some aspirin by now. Really?! If you’re going to try and be all scientific, at least make sure your sentences are somewhat coherent. The study has six, count em’, six objectives. How extraordinarily difficult is it to design a research study with all the appropriate controls and parameters that can clearly answer one or two questions, let alone six questions? And these questions don’t even make sense (“preliminarily sum up the acupuncture treatment’s characteristics and advntages above this disease”). The methods say they had 60 subjects. Of course theres no description of what the criterion for being in the study was. Was there a standardized dysphagia rating for these subjects (i.e. Dysphagia Outcome Severity Score)? Were they all identified as aspirating on a modified barium swallow or fiber endoscopy? Were they NPO or on modified diets? Who really knows; of course I’m only going off of an abstract, but still, the abstract doesn’t even mention the subjects being dysphagic. 30 of the participants were part of a control group that received what I assume to be typical acupuncture treatment (I admit I don’t even know what that really is) and another 30 participants were part of the experimental group that in fact got needles stuck in their tongue and pharynx. Holy hell, that would hurt. Who would volunteer for this? Who’s internal review board would be ok allowing researchers to do this?
The best part is the results. Did you catch those? They’re in the bold. The needles in the tongue and throat group’s “total effectiveness reaches 93.3%” and the control group’s “reaches 80%.” Wow! Is it time to abandon current treatment methods and replace with acupuncture to the inside of your throat? Heck no. What is the effectiveness? Was there a 93.3% overall reduction in aspiration? Did these people go from an NPO status to a full oral diet? Was the dysphagia self-reportedly improved, and to what degree? Quality of life improvements? And did you see that p-value? Both groups are statistically significant! Oh wait, that’s completely not possible. At all. This study was supposed to measure the effect of the experimental group; how can you derive results that demonstrate a statistically significant control group? You can’t! And there’s that last claim, that sticking needles in your tongue and pharynx is safe. Maybe if you’re this guy: