Book Review: An Introduction To Western Medical Acupuncture


Over the past couple of months I have been looking at Western Acupuncture, Eastern Acupuncture and what is known as ‘Dry Needling’. I approached the subject with an open mind as I try to with everything in life and made sure not to become encapsulated by one view over another. I do find however that I prefer to treat my patients based on sound evidence with a heaped teaspoon of experience to back it up. My main concern was that patients from a western culture such as ours have mixed feelings regarding treatment from the East. Clearly acupuncture has benefits as it would not have survived this long as a treatment option. What I needed to know was why it was beneficial and where it is best applied using western science and medicine to back it up.

To go about my journey I initially attended a Western/Eastern acupuncture course to learn how to apply the needles and to understand some of the theory behind it. However the course I decided to choose was very Eastern in its teaching and I left with mixed feelings and a lot more questions than I had answers. Therefore I bought the above titled book following a recommendation from an Osteopath friend of mine.

I’ll jump straight to the point, it was brilliant, all my questions answered and backed up with beautiful dollops of evidence. The book flows from the beginning discussing the thought process behind the book and using evidence, it discusses exactly the problem I have always had with Acupuncture. Using anatomy and physiology, it explains exactly why benefits are felt from acupuncture and where and when they can be applied. It discusses all previous acupuncture treatment claims and the evidence behind each of them, providing references in case you want to check out the reliability of the studies. Finally it provides treatment suggestions for a handful of different complaints, explaining why you might consider each option. It does not write off eastern Acupuncture but respects it explaining how it may work and that you may want to consider it alongside your more evidence based western treatment as there essentially are no boundaries to Acupuncture and that benefits have been found from others experiences.

I still feel inclined to stick to treating western acupuncture trigger points only as the evidence is so strong for them, though the theories behind segmental and extra segmental treatment does intrigue me and I may dabble from time to time. 4 stars.

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