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Friday 28th October 2016

Call for regulation of acupuncture

23rd March 2010

People who receive acupuncture run some risk of serious infection, according to recent Hong Kong research.


However, researchers also found a relatively small number of people reported problems with acupuncture.

Acupuncture is an alternative therapy that involves the insertion of needles into the skin, and which is meant to treat a variety of symptoms.

Acupuncturists believe that many health problems are related to blocked energy flows within the body, which the needles help to release.

In the recent finding, researchers specialising in microbiology found that acupuncture needles could easily pass germs between people, or spread skin germs within people's bodies.

For the purposes of the study, lead researcher Patrick Woo analysed about 50 acupuncture studies.

All of the studies dealt with infection risk, and most of the studies concluded that people's skin should be disinfected before they receive acupuncture.

Skin infections were the most common problems affecting sufferers, though some people contracted more serious internal infections.

The researchers said that acupuncture should be more controlled, to prevent any infections from occurring.

The researchers said that acupuncturists should use disposable needles, as well as disinfecting skin and taking care to protect their instruments against bacteria.

They said that governments needed to regulate acupuncture more strictly, and require more qualifications from practitioners, and that if acupuncturists did not learn to take more sterile measures, a new condition known as acupuncture mycobacteriosis might become widespread.

Acupuncture mycobacteriosis is an infection that rapidly grows around the acupuncture insertion point, leading to large abscesses and ulcers.

The researchers said that they had noted more than 50 cases of the condition, in which bacteria migrated from the skin of patients and ended up causing multiple organ failures, incidences of flesh-eating disease, paralysis, and destroying joints.

When there were cases of serious hepatitis B infection, the virus entered people's bodies through dirty needles.

Contaminated needles, cotton swabs, and hot packs could theoretically also transmit HIV.

The researchers said that, although there was no evidence that acupuncture could cause HIV infection, the infection routes of some HIV patients remained a mystery, and could have been related to acupuncture.

Some studies have shown that there is no difference between traditional acupuncture, which involves the precise placement of needles on the body's different energy meridians, and 'fake' acupuncture, in which the needles are placed at random around the body.

The use of acupuncture as an alternative therapy, which was invented in ancient China, has spread rapidly around the world.

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