Statement Regarding Acupuncture by the Medical Council
of the Academy of Sciences of the German Democratic Republic (1981)

Rudolph Baumann

The Council of Medicine of the German Democratic republic makes the following statement about acupuncture:

The teachings of acupuncture are based on the assumption of special points on the human skin. The points are supposed to be distributed along special invisible directional lines called "meridians." Furthermore acupuncture points are supposed to correspond during special times of the day with specific organs. A pricking of the points for a limited period of time is supposed to heal various diseases. According to teachings of acupuncture the type of metal used for the needles is equally important as the kind of movement (turning) of the needles, which are also charged with electric current, sometimes with music. Depending on the kind of teaching, the points are either distributed throughout the body or localized on the ear-lobe (auriculotherapy). Tongue and sole acupuncture also exist. Since especially in Western Europe insecurity has been created among the population and partially also among physicians due to communications of different medical societies as well as of paramedical therapists in the media, the council of medicine makes the following statement after extensive examination:

  1. Points of acupuncture are unknown to science and their existence has not even been made probable. Their supposed topography is totally different among various schools of acupuncture.
  2. All procedures to prove the existence of these points histologically or by means of skin-resistence measurements are not convincing.
  3. The effect of acupuncture is independent of the localization of points. It is to be sought in the framework of effects equally obtainable by other suggestive methods and consequently correlated with the attitude of expectation of the patients.
  4. Treatment of severe illness such as infectious diseases, organ- and system-diseases, neoplasms, and diseases of the sensory organs by means of acupuncture is not possible.
  5. From the point of view of epidemic hygiene one cannot propagate that e.g. shigellosis can be influenced by acupuncture.
  6. In narcosis, acupuncture is not able to achieve better results than other procedures based on hypnosis, suggestion, and autosuggestion or which utilize the hysteroid borderline situation of patients preceding operation. Electrical stimulation of the body or the head such as elecronarcosis or electroanesthesia has nothing to do with acupuncture. Furthermore it was not possible to demonstrate a specific relationship to the endogenous mediators (e.g. serotonin).
  7. At the present time there is no reason to recommend funds for acupuncture research or to include acupuncture in educational programs of medical students and physicians.

Dr. Baumann was president of the Academy's Council of Medicine. This article was originally published in Zeitschrift fur experimentelle Chirurgie 14:66-67, 1981.

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