Insights into Biomedicine from the Study of Acupuncture


Fifty years ago no traditional doctor would have looked seriously at acupuncture let alone recommended its treatment. Recently my NHS consultant in Aberdeen recommended that I use acupuncture for my condition. And she is not alone. Acupuncture has made major inroads into the bastions of medicine. A recent article in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary medicine, authored by 16 doctors including many anaesthetists, summarizes areas where acupuncture has given new medical insights. Major contributions are in the treatment of chronic pain, greater understanding of biomedical knowledge of connective tissue, understanding the placebo effect, and in developing therapeutic devices for nerve stimulation. The article concludes, …these exemplars of unanticipated outcomes of acupuncture research comprise an additional rationale for continued support of basic and clinical research evaluating acupuncture and other under-researched therapies.


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Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona: Implications of the Social Brain Hypothesis: Integrated Indigenous Wisdom and Neuroscience

Increasing evidence is emerging that the brain is largely shaped by our social experiences through neuroplasticity, Social experience may have more powerful effects on gene expression through epigenetics than classical heredity. The audience effect means that gene expression is more powerful when we are in the company of others than when we are alone. This research is converging with indigenous knowledge that healing occurs within the context of community and that our social relationships make us who we are. I will speak about the neuroscience, the indigenous knowledge, their convergence, and our research findings in relation to this, including the impact of healing circles/talking circles on symptom relief and quality of life in primary care, the power of group healing and peer counseling/support for people who have psychosis, and the role of group self-medical care on improving health for people with diabetes, asthma, and pregnant women with drug and alcohol problems. In all these contexts, the power of group and community for healing is demonstrated. We conclude with the implications for the future of medicine and psychology.


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