Thursday, December 16, 2010

Acupuncture: SBM's Novella vs. CT's ND Kontomerkos!

here, I compare two positions on acupuncture.  First, there's the proponent ND Kontomerkos replete with panacea-like promises regarding the efficacy of acupuncture and big statements about her 'science foundation qualifications' [see 001., below]; then, a word from skeptic Novella at Science-Based Medicine [see 002., below]:

001. Kontomerkos, C. (ND UBCNM) tells us:

001.a. in "Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine" [vsc 2010-12-15]:

"acupuncture originated over 2000 years ago [it's older than dirt...and] involves the insertion of hair-thin, sterile, disposable needles into strategic points on the body that are specific for particular complaints or conditions [really!!!...and] has been clinically shown and medically accepted as an effective tool [really!!!...] acupuncture has also been linked to increased levels of specific hormones that improve the body's immune function and its response to stress [...] how does acupuncture work? Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and acupuncture are based on a concept of balanced qi [Q, aka vitalism, the archaic belief in an imaginary force or energy governing one's physiology...] or vital energy [VE, a qi alias] that flows throughout the body. Qi regulates all aspects of the body, influencing spiritual [supernaturalism], emotional, mental, and physical balance. Disease occurs when the flow of qi is disrupted and yin (negative energy [E]) and yang (positive energy) [both vitalistic, overall] become imbalanced [...] scientists have found ways that fit their scientific model of how and why acupuncture works [and that's quite a science-claim]."

Note: so, we're told acupuncture has meaningful efficacy, and that acupuncture passes scientific muster. Its premise -- vitalism = Q = VE = E -- is communicated, but the status of vitalism as science-ejected isn't.  You'll see below why such an admission cannot occur within naturopathy.  The "points" are claimed to be specific, and of course you get naturopathy's requisite supernaturalism along with its vitalism.

So, the claim: science subset acupuncture subset vitalism and supernaturalism.  This implies: science subset naturopathy, since this is a naturopathic clinical practice.  It could be very inconvenient to admit the truth: science excludes the essentially naturopathic [vitalism, supernaturalism and kind], being that the ND's alma mater engages in commerce under a science label [that isn't true, which constitutes false advertising, roughly speaking].

Now, a word on the website's address, "let nature heal" [LNH].  This itself is a coding for naturopathy's essential science-ejected vitalistic context.  For example, the ND's alma mater UBCNM states in "Six Guiding Principles. Guiding Principle #1" (archived here)[vsc 2010-12-15]:

"the healing power of nature. Viz [sp., vis] medicatrix naturae [HPN-VMN]: the body has the inherent ability to establish, maintain, and restore health. The healing process is ordered and intelligent [purposeful; goal-directed aka teleological]; nature heals [as in 'let nature heal'] through the response of the life force [LF]. The physician's role is to facilitate and augment this process [TP]."

So, ND Kontomerkos's web site address is indicative of  naturopathy's overall vitalistic context: LNH = HPN-VMN  = LF = TP.

You just have to decode it, "from the inside"!

001.b. in "Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture" [vsc 2010-12-15]:

"Dr. Kontomerkos is certified in facial rejuvenation acupuncture
[...and it is claimed to do all these things:]
increased blood flow,
increased collagen production,
improvement of facial muscle tone,
reduction of puffiness around the eyes,
elimination of fine lines and wrinkles,
improvement in facial color,
increase in skin hydration,
reduction of sagging jowls and drooping eye lids,
increased blood and lymph circulation, tightening of pores,
reduction in acne, improvement of TMJ,
sinus decongestion,
improved digestion and metabolism,
stress reduction,
more restful sleep,
improved hormone balance,
improvement of self-esteem."

Note: quack panacea alert!

001.c. in "Services" [vsc 2010-12-15]:

"acupuncture [..is a] gentle, ancient healing technique [that] treats various health conditions, stimulates the body's healing response [coded vitalism], and promotes physical and emotional well-being [...] reiki therapy – reiki is an energetic therapy  [that is, vitalistic...] reiki can decrease pain, improve health [really!!!...] it can benefit emotional health as well as physical health [...] homeopathy is a distinct system of medicine that treats illnesses with extremely diluted agents [...] homeopathic remedies [...] each remedy is chosen after Dr. Kontomerkos conducts an interview focusing on the physical and emotional characteristics of each person, which lead her to the prescription of an individualized remedy [...] Dr. Kontomerkos also performs facial rejuvenation acupuncture."

Note: whenever someone clinical claims homeopathy has efficacy...run.  And acupuncture.

001.d. in "Meet the Doctor" [vsc 2010-12-15]:

"Dr. Kontomerkos was trained in the scientific model as her foundation [bullshit!] in medicine  [...] she went on to earn a doctorate in naturopathic medicine from University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine [...] Dr. Kontomerkos offers natural medical solutions [...] the aim is to heal the underlying cause of illness [coded vitalism...and speaks of] other health care professionals [...] for Dr. Kontomerkos, the goal is to provide excellence in health care and wellness by merging cutting-edge, evidence-based research with ancient healing traditions [epistemic conflation]."

Note: so, there's the big science model / context falsehood.  The science-exterior [the essentially naturopathic] cannot be science, by definition.

001.e. in "Naturopathy" [vsc 2010-12-15]:

"naturopathic medical schools require the same basic sciences as a medical doctor [...] naturopathic medicine is a method of healing that blends centuries-old holistic medicines with modern medical science [...] the naturopathic physician is required to complete four years of training [...including] acupuncture, homeopathic medicine [etc....]  naturopathic physician takes rigorous professional board exams."

Note: so, again, a science expertise / basis claim / promise, acu. and homeo., and a claim of 'professional rigor.'  Notice that the science-ejected vitalism essential to naturopathy overall is not communicated in this page which claims to contextualize naturopathy.

We ARE told, cryptically, "the premise behind naturopathic medicine is to find the root cause of illness [RCI]", and that is, overall, vitalism coded.

Therefore: vitalism = RCI, also.

001.f. in "Christine Kontomerkos, ND, MS" [vsc 2010-12-15]:

"Dr. Kontomerkos was trained in the scientific model as her foundation in medicine and has a great respect for the ever-advancing field of medicine [a HUGE science promise...she has] a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from University of Bridgeport College of Naturopathic Medicine [...] Dr. Kontomerkos offers natural medical solutions [...] her services involve the use of  [...] homeopathy [...and] acupuncture [etc....] by merging cutting-edge, evidence-based research with ancient healing traditions [...] Dr. Kontomerkos enhances her knowledge of the profession [...] or more information, please visit http://www.letnatureheal.com/."

Note: wow, there's a HUGE science model / context promise again, UBCNM as an alma mater, homeo. and acu., and an 'of the professions' claim.

AND who pays for this?  In "Insurance and Location" [vsc 2010-12-15] we're told:

"our office accepts the following insurance plans: Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, ConnectiCare, Cigna, HealthNet, Aetna [...] for any plans not listed here, most insurance companies will reimburse 'out-of-network' for services that are rendered."

Ka-ching, ka-ching.

002. Dr. Novella writes at Science-Based Medicine in "Acupuncture and the Hazard of Nonsense" (2010-12-15):

"a recent study published in the Archives of Opthalmology [sp., ophthalmology!] compare patching of one eye vs acupuncture in the treatment of amblyopia in older children, and finds positive results from acupuncture [...one of sCAM's] highly implausible modalities [...] changes to clinical practice are not warranted based upon an unblinded pilot study such as this. The history of acupuncture specifically is one in which unblinded pilot studies tend to be positive, but then follow up well-controlled blinded acupuncture studies have tended to be negative. If history is any judge, these results will not hold up under further study, and therefore changes to clinical practice are premature. This episode is just one example of the hazard of studying was is essentially a nonsensical system – the notion that acupuncture needles placed in specific (and non-existent) acupoints can cause specific physiological effects [oh snap!...] there is no evidence for such wild speculation about possible mechanisms of acupuncture, and speculating about mechanisms is premature when the best acupuncture studies all find no effect [...] what we get from acupuncture, at best, are very non-specific effects from the therapeutic ritual that surrounds acupuncture [...] non-specific effects do not justify specific claims or mechanisms [...] the ultimate problem is that the underlying notions of acupuncture itself – that there are specific acupuncture points on the body, and that there are mysterious energies that can be manipulated by sticking needles in these points that then have specific physiological effects – are highly implausible. They are, in fact, nothing but pre-scientific superstition. The energy and acupuncture points of acupuncture, according to decades of research and multiple independent lines of evidence, simply do not exist. Acupuncture is ultimately a shell game of preliminary unreliable results and misinterpreted non-specific/placebo effects."

Note: yes, that is, again:

"acupuncture is ultimately a shell game of preliminary unreliable results and misinterpreted non-specific/placebo effects."


And it is business-as-usual for NDs / NMDs and their schools.
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