Is there scientific basis for acupuncture and herbs?
There are many acupuncture effectiveness studies that can be searched through the links in our "AOM information" area.
Yes. There are many viable scientific theories for acupuncture modes of action relating to the function of the body on many levels. Some answer the question on an atomic level, some on a biochemistry level, some on a neurological level, and some on a musculoskeletal level. There are others dealing with biophysics and bioelectricity, of the body; and of course, the mind and spirit are always influential in treatment, as in our lives. Oriental medicine is based on holism, the relationships on the inside and outside of the body, between systems, between organs, nerves and muscles, between and within the energetic connections that allow the flow of communication and resource management in the body, as well as the energetic relationships with the world around us! So ALL levels are considered interconnected and important, and optimizing the balance of any of them result in improved health.
The ancient Chinese believed that within the body, there are channels of energy called meridians, which regulate your body’s functions. Any imbalance in energy or qi (pronounced chee) causes illness. With acupuncture, needles are used to manipulate the energy along meridians and their corresponding organs in order to improve the flow of these energies and bring about balance. It is easier to invision this now that we have wi-fi, remotes and other technology that send energy wirelessly to communicate and trigger functions; the ancient Chinese were able to detect and grasp the concept of this system in the body, and they related it to analogies in nature, before any technological analogies existed.
Herbal prescriptions (raw herbs or prepared supplements) are often used in conjunction with an acupuncture treatment or may be used in place of acupuncture. Each herb in a prescription has a particular function. Unlike current pharmaceutical practice which may use the isolated active ingredient of an herb to treat a disease or a synthetic version of an active ingredient, most herbologists work with the natural products, in a more chemically complete form. There are complementary ingredients in an herb that balance out the main ingredients. This keeps side effects very low for most herbs and herbal formulas.
A large body of herbal research exists both, past and present. It is often coded (no longer given the herbal or formula name) in the proprietary research being done to develop modern pharmaceuticals. Research and trials are expensive to conduct and are generally done in the expectation of profit, which is not forthcoming on an herbal which is not patentable. The big pharmaceutical companies have long studied herbal compounds to develop drugs. They are now interested in the herbals themselves as evidenced in Bayer Pharmaceuticals recent purchase of Dihon, one of the largest Traditional Chinese medicine manufacturers in the world.