Sunday, February 28, 2010

Battlefield Acupuncture for US Troops

Yes, we are already down the road of crazy with the title. But go to this link, just so we can both believe that this is a true thing.

Ok, so now that you believe me, let's ask some questions. First, why is this just for wounded troops? Will acupuncture work on uninjured troops? Can you relieve the pain of getting shot by sticking a needle in your earlobe? Imagine the super soldier with no armor, but a crazed pincushion hedgehog look.

Speaking of hedgehogs (the mini British equivalent of a porcupine), couldn't you just strap a couple of hedgehogs to a pair of earmuffs and cure all your ills and stop all pain? Instead of sham-wow, why not a needle-wow?

Remember that post on placeboes or even chiropractors. You will find that I like being a pin cushion. It did help me with the pain I experienced from diabetes. Of course it never cured me. The acupuncturist never divined the fact that the pain was a symptom of diabetes.

Let me qualify something. The acupuncture I had was either smack dab into a nerve or it was placed around muscles that were then shocked to cause them to rhythmically contract. This is not pseudoscience, it is really doing something to my body. It did give relief, as does massage in similar places. Did the pain stop because I had a delay in diabetes? No, just unlocked a muscle or interrupted the pain via the nerve.

So, imagine my surprise when I see that the emergency battlefield acupuncture they are using is of the ear variety. Simply the ears are mapped to the rest of the body. You can poke a pin into an ear and heal the heart, lungs, legs, etc. There are schools of thought that there are similar areas on the feet and hands that also map to the rest of the body.

The only needles I had in my hand was to reduce pain in my hand. I am all right with that, though less so now that I have controlled the diabetes and most of the pain is now gone.

Back to needles in the ear. I am unsure how this all started, but my guess is that there were folks that had chronic pain but really couldn't be running around looking like a human pin cushion. Why not put pins in the ears and the placebo effect kicks in and we get a similar result? Ipso facto, as they say, ear-based acupuncture was born.

So, let's just say that acupuncture in the ear is indeed a placebo. But if that is true, are bullets perhaps a nocebo? It makes sense. If a placebo can't cure anything that we can't imagine away, then the primary illness should be purely mental illness. We are told that bullets will hurt us, we believe they would hurt us, thus we believe we can eliminate the pain of a bullet with a placebo. Circular logic is fun!

I really don't believe all this bunk about the pain of bullets being curable with needles in your ears. I have gone out to the woods to shoot big guns at furniture. Furniture is not sentient and not susceptible to the placebo effect. I also do not imagine that acupuncture could ever put a sleeper sofa back together after being hit by a dozen shotgun blasts and about sixty rounds of .223 slugs.

I don't want you to believe that I am against battlefield acupuncture. This is far from the truthiness of the underlying issues because placeboes do in fact work. That is why we have the placebo effect, duh! The only issue I have is that you need to do an intelligence or rather a gullibility test prior to treatment.  This  is not always going to be easy. The patient must also be couscous so that they believe they are being helped.

Imagine waking up in a field hospital with a hole in your chest and twenty needles in your ears!

So you see, I am all for soldiers as pincushions. We must be careful of how we do this and be ready with real painkillers the moment they figure out this is pseudoscience.

Here is a quote to give you an idea about the placebo effect : "Acupuncture doesn't work for all of her patients; however. About 15 percent do not respond to acupuncture, Major Simpson said..." As you can see, at least 85% of our military has a good imagination.

One last thought. Will putting pressure on a bleeding wound stop blood loss better when the patient is awake? Is this acupuncture's nephew, acupressure? Inquiring pseudoscientists want to know!