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The Science of Acupuncture

April 7, 2013

BBC Documentary "The Science of Acupuncture" follows Professor Kathy Sykes from Bristol University as she investigates how and why science is beginning to respond to centuries old remedies.

 

Part 1: Alternative Medicine: The Evidence on Acupuncture 

Kathy Sykes, Professor at Bristol University, begins her journey in China where she sees some incredible demonstrations of acupuncture. The most astonishing is a scene in a Chinese hospital in which doctors perform open heart surgery on a young woman – using a combination of acupuncture and conventional pain relief instead of a general anaesthetic. In China, she discovers, acupuncture is used alongside western medicine and, at times, as a replacement.

So, what does western science make of these claims? Dr. Sykes meets the key scientists, both in the UK and in the US, who have put them to the test. She discovers that – although for most conditions and illnesses acupuncture cannot be shown to work – scientists have, intriguingly, uncovered a number of conditions relating to chronic pain in which they can be fairly certain that acupuncture is having a powerful effect.

Over several months, Dr. Sykes and a team of scientists devised an experiment in hopes to finally uncover the secrets of acupuncture. They scanned the brains of volunteers undergoing acupuncture. The conclusions challenged current understandings of the workings of the brain and throws new light on this ancient practice.

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