Acupuncture wins support from panel
Therapy effective for some ailments

By Paul Recer Associated Press

WASHINGTON &Mac246; Long a stepchild in American medicine; the ancient Chinese needle therapy acupuncture got a limited endorsement Wednesday from federal experts for treatment of some types of pain and nausea.

A committee of medical experts selected by the National Institutes of Health cited "clear evidence" that acupuncture effectively treats pain after surgery or dental procedures and controls nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy or pregnancy. "We came to the clear-cut decision that the treatment ... really did work" for those limited uses, said Dr. David Ramsay, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and chairman of the NIH panel. "I view this as a beginning to a better integration of acupuncture into traditional Western medicine and to start to take it seriously," Ramsay said at a news conference.

The committee report said evidence shows that acupuncture also is effective in some patients for tennis elbow, muscle pain and menstrual cramps but the studies lack convincing proof. The report recommended more research. Organizations representing about 4,000 doctors licensed to practice acupuncture viewed the report as a clear indication their ancient art is now becoming part of mainstream American medicine.

"For the first time there is a public statement from the Health and Human Services (Department) that acupuncture might have a role in treating certain health problems," said Dr. Helga Well-Apelt, a medical doctor who uses Chinese medicine in her Sarasota, Fla., practice. "The medical community always before has ignored acupuncture."

"It can now be called real medicine," said Dr. Bradley Williams, president of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, an organization of about 3,000 doctors certified to perform acupuncture.

This article appeared in the Arizona Republic, (a Phoenix, Arizona based newspaper) Thursday, November 6, 1997.