The World Health Organization Viewpoint On Acupuncture

     Abstract: A World Health organization interregional seminar on acupuncture, moxibustion and acupuncture anesthesia was held in Beijing ( Peking ) in June 1979 attended by participants from twelve countries. Its purpose was to discuss ways in which priorities and standards could be determined in the acupuncture areas of clinical work, research, training, and technology transfer. Scientific investigation must be closely correlated with demonstrations of acupuncture's clinical efficacy. Apart from acupuncture analgesia used in major surgical procedures, acupuncture also has been applied as a diagnostic aid and in conjunction with fluoroscopy in gastrointestinal diseases. Acupuncture is clearly not a panacea for all ills; but the sheer weight of evidence demands that acupuncture must be taken seriously as a clinical procedure of considerable value.

     During the past decade, there has been a growing convergence between the most advanced research knowledge from physiology, biochemistry and pharmacology, and knowledge obtained by research in the field of acupuncture; that is to say, a convergence of modern international science with traditional Chinese medicine. For example, in more than 600 cases of coronary heart disease, the effectiveness of acupuncture in relieving the symptoms was over 80 percent. In 645 cases of acute bacillary dysentery, 90 percent of the patients were cured within ten days as judged by clinical symptoms and signs and the results of stool culture. The technique is also comparatively effective in controlling fever, inflammation and pain.

     From the viewpoint of modern medicine, the principle action of acupuncture ( and of moxibustion ) is to regulate the function of the human body and to increase its resistance by enhancing the immune system and the antiphlogistic, analgesic, antispastic, antishock and antiparalytic abilities of the body.

     The World Health organization Interregional Seminar drew up the following provisional list of diseases that lend themselves to acupuncture treatment. The list is based on clinical experience, and not necessarily on controlled clinical research: furthermore, the inclusion of specific diseases are not meant to indicate the extent of acupuncture's efficacy in treating them.

    1. Upper Respiratory Tract: acute sinusitis, acute rhinitis, common Cold, acute tonsillitis.
    2. Respiratory System: acute bronchitis, bronchial asthma.
    3. Disorders of the Eye: acute conjunctivitis, central retinitis, myopia (in children), cataract (without complications).
    4. Disorders of the Mouth: toothache, post-extraction pain, gingivitis, acute and chronic pharyngitis.
    5. Gastro-intestinal Disorders: spasms of esophagus and cardia, hiccough, gastroptosis, acute and chronic gastritis, gastric hyperacidity, chronic duodenal ulcer (pain relief), acute duodenal ulcer, acute and chronic colitis, acute bacillary dysentery, constipation, diarrhea, paralytic ileus.
    6. Neurological and Musculo-skeletal Disorders: headache and migraine, trigeminal neuralgia, facial palsy (early stage, i.e., within three to six months), pareses following a stroke, peripheral neuropathies, sequelae of poliomyelitis (early stage, i.e., within six months), Meniere's disease, neurogenic bladder dysfunction, nocturnal enuresis, intercostal neuralgia, cervicobrachial syndrome, “frozen shoulder", "tennis elbow", sciatica, low back pain, osteoarthritis.