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In this issue
  1. Adrian White
  1. Correspondence to Adrian White: info.aim{at}bmjgroup.com

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Our articles come from many different locations, starting in the dentist's chair. Rosted and colleagues report a series of 20 patients who received acupuncture for marked dental anxiety bordering on phobia: previously even simple work had been difficult or impossible, but after acupuncture the work was completed in all cases. This study is not controlled and is not a paragon of rigorous science. However, it raises an important question: although the effect of acupuncture could be dismissed as ‘distraction’, even that can very obviously be helpful in managing patients and improving dental care. But we really need placebo controlled trials before adopting acupuncture to help these patients?

Then we move to the computer hard disk: Glazov explores the data from his study of laser acupuncture for back pain, looking for which particular features can predict the patients who will respond. This is a post hoc analysis so should be interpreted with caution, but makes some very interesting suggestions in this area that is relevant both for providing services and for planning research.

Next, off to medical school, to ask how students gain their understanding of acupuncture. Donald et al provide some evidence that their prior understanding, presumably gained ‘passively’ through the media, is significantly modified by seeing acupuncture used in real patients.

Then we move to laboratories full of healthy volunteers. Benham and colleagues explore an area that we know too little about: needle sensation. There are significantly greater sensations when you rotate a deep needle compared to a shallow one, but shallow needles produce sensations in one third of volunteers: readers might think they ‘knew’ this but actually this could be the first time it has been demonstrated scientifically.

Two studies use the eye as a window on the body's physiological response to acupuncture. Mori's team could identify a pupillary response (figure 1), but Meira-Freitas and colleagues could find no change in ocular pressure, though this should not be interpreted as ‘acupuncture does not work’ because a response would not be expected in healthy volunteers, and the main value in this report is to establish the methodology.

Figure 1

Pupillary response to acupuncture.

Now we've hopped over to the exercise bike: Matsubara's team shows that acupuncture can modify the short-term fall in immunoglobulin that usually appears after exercise.

Despite all the doubts about the suitability of the blunt ‘placebo’ needle, it seems for the moment the best of a bad bunch. But current designs are expensive, so Kreiner and colleagues describe a simple, valid version that can be home-made, provided it can be sterilised.

Writing about acupuncture practice from Thailand, Louie and colleagues describe how, with limited resources, a free acupuncture service was set up for supporting patients with HIV/AIDS. They here review its first year of operation.

Next we move to an elite athletes' training camp, a palliative care clinic and a Japanese centre for integrative medicine, all places where astute clinicians report interesting cases.

The Research Shorts section includes some discussion on the long-awaited Cochrane Review of acupuncture for osteoarthritis; there are expressed some fundamental doubts about the way the review was conducted which could stimulate many readers to send us their own comments for publication.

This issue carries a new feature: Image of Acupuncture, which takes advantage of the journal's full colour printing, and to relieve the dullness of the printed page. Readers with acupuncture-related pictures that they would like considered for this feature are welcome to contact us.

In this new volume of Acupuncture in Medicine, we welcome new members of the editorial board including several from outside the UK, and wish them a long and happy relationship with the journal. They understand that they will be asked to contribute (within reason) since editorial board membership is no longer considered a sinecure. We also say goodbye and thank you to Christer Carlsson who has been on our editorial board since 1980 and now moves into well-deserved retirement.

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Footnotes

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.

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