The concept of chi and the system of meridians in which it travels is not essential to explain the therapeutic action of acupuncture, for example in the treatment of pain. Neurophysiological explanations, whilst still not wholly adequate, will eventually provide an accurate and adequate account of the processes involved. In contrast, scientific studies attempting to validate the existence of acupuncture meridians have been uniformly unsuccessful. Why then does this vitalistic concept persist in many acupuncture practices, even in the Western world? The answer is that it provides a credible model of the patient's symptoms and of the treatment procedure. Acceptance of this shared model strengthens the therapeutic relationship and is likely to facilitate the treatment process.
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