Acupunctures for alcohol withdrawal? No. Not really

Acupunctures for alcohol withdrawal? No. Not really

The meta-analysis is Acupuncture as an intervention to reduce alcohol dependency: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

They

aimed to ascertain the effectiveness of acupuncture for reducing alcohol dependence as assessed by changes in either craving or withdrawal symptoms.

and after reviewing 15 RCT's, came to the conclusion that

acupuncture was potentially effective in reducing alcohol craving and withdrawal symptoms and could be considered as an additional treatment choice and/or referral option within national healthcare systems.

Of course, the studies were of poor methodologic quality. That is almost always the case with pseudo-medical studies.

But here is an observation.

Through most of the paper they discuss acupuncture as if were a single intervention, like penicillin VK is a single intervention for strep throat.

But there is no one acupuncture, and I have counted dozens upon dozens of different styles of acupuncture. I suspect that there are actually as many styles of acupuncture as there are acupuncturists and that if an intervention was not imposed upon them by a study protocol that no two acupuncturists would ever puncture the same way.

And why would they? Since the diagnostic modalities of TCPM, pulse and tongue evaluation, is not based on reality but the delusions of the practitioner.

And it holds true in this meta-analysis as well.

They compare 4 different kinds of acupuncture,  acupuncture,  auricular acupuncture,  auricular electroacupuncture, and electro-acupuncture.

And no two studies used the same acupoints.

And no two studies use the same frequency or duration of acupuncture.

None of these studies are even remotely equivalent and cannot really be compared or pooled.  The only commonality was the word acupuncture. It is like concluding pills are useful for treating hypertension, when none of the pills are antihypertensives.

They do note this weakness

The clinical heterogeneity associated with the different acupuncture techniques limits our ability to identify which technique was more effective for treatment of alcohol disorders. Acupuncture treatments also varied in duration, frequency, and the acupuncture points used, making it difficult to assess the key characteristics that might be associated with the effectiveness of the intervention.

but are unworried by it.

I would suggest the great variability in the intervention with similar modest results is further evidence that the effects of acupuncture are that of a nonspecific, theatrical placebo.

And journals really need to start using the plural with these kinds of worthless meta-analysis. It is acupunctures. And they do nothing.

Points of Interest 12/29/2016
Points of Interest 12/28/2016