'Acupuncture Goes Mainstream'
Article Perpetrates Fraud
by Kevin Courcey, R.N.
After reading the glowing review of acupuncture in last week's Parade Magazine, I just had to respond. The author, supposedly a doc, took a picture of a woman in a Shanghai hospital undergoing open-heart surgery using only one acupuncture needle as anesthesia. He overlooked a main point, however, as I mention in my letter.
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In reading the article "Acupuncture Goes Mainstream," (Parade, August 16th, 1998) the author states that he witnessed open-heart surgery in Shanghai 20 years ago with the patient wide awake and under no anesthetic other than a single acupuncture needle in her ear. He even had the picture to prove it, which you reprinted. "She never flinched," states the author. "There was no mask on her face, no intravenous needle in her arm." Fascinating.
Apparently, the good doctor momentarily forgot that without a completely sealed chest cavity, breathing is impossible. The diaphragm can only inflate our lungs by creating a suction inside the chest cavity. The lungs then expand (you inhale) because the pressure around them is now less than the pressure of the outside air. As soon as one pokes a hole in the chest cavity, such as the gaping surgical hole shown in the photo, the difference between the internal pressure and the external pressure is equalized, the lungs collapse, and breathing stops. Hence the medical necessity for a heart-lung machine during the procedure. This was obviously a staged sham, one which the author was unwittingly taken in by.
This was a time of newly opened "cultural exchange" between the US and China, and the Chinese were intent upon presenting themselves in a positive light. The desire to present Chinese medicine as equally effective to Western medicine was intense at this time, and may account for the motivation for such a fraud. But we should not still be peddling this deceit 20 years later. And it is irresponsible to be urging the public to base medical treatment decisions on such clearly bogus information.
I urge you to establish a medical review panel for future articles on alternative healthcare modalities. Experts such as Stephen Barrett MD of the Quackwatch website, and Wallace Sampson MD, editor of the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, would be excellent choices.
Kevin Courcey RN