teqmc2 wrote:Ok, my field of expertise is muscles. I am sure that there is a device which can measure a muscle's resting tonicity, but I do not know what that sensor is. We acquire one of those, and several people with pathologically elevated tonicity in some muscle, for example the Rectus Femoris, one which frequently has this issue. We take a base line measurement to see what the tonicity of that muscle is before treatment. The practitioner who is being tested puts their hands on the muscle, and uses the energy of their will to lower the tonicity of the muscle. Half of the subjects get treatment, half of them get fake treatment: hands get laid on, look of concentration on practitioner's face, same duration, same intensity of pressure. Afterwords, measure muscle tonicity again.
Ideally, the test should be made double-blind though. This may be difficult in this case and I can only think of patient- and observer-blinded study protocols.
There already are plenty of acupuncture studies out there, but unfortunately a majority suffers from inadequate protocol design. In those acupuncture studies, IIRC the conclusion of the better designed studies was that both "true" acupuncture (i.e. following the traditional practice based on energy meridians or whatever) and "fake" acupuncture (i.e. sticking needles in the skin without following the meridians and traditional points) have a higher efficacy than placebo (and sometimes even compared to conventional therapy) for some conditions (e.g. back pain), but no statistical difference between the "true" and "fake" groups. (Reference: Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(17):1892-1898) I think this is quite an interesting result as it may lead to the conclusion that acupuncture works, even though the whole energy meridian stuff is nonsense. It may also help deciding for which conditions acupuncture may be appropriate at all. Pain management seems to be the most promising candidate, though of course you have to be careful: the placebo-effect has also been shown to be most pronounced in pain management. I am not sure to what extend (if at all) the acupuncture studies showing this outcome as in Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(17) are supported/contradicted by repeat studies and/or meta-studies etc.
Edit: I can't find the published study now, but I remember hearing a few years back on some science radio show of a study that compared 4 groups:
1. traditional acupuncture
2. placebo in pill form
3. fake acupuncture without skin penetration
4. fake acupuncture with skin penetration.
Apparently (?) the subjects where unable to distinguish between 1, 3 and 4. Results where 1 = 4 > 3 > 2. Conclusion was, that there may be an actual effect from sticking needles in the skin of subjects suffering from back pain. The fact that 3 > 2 may be the same as the observation that placebos given intravenously show higher efficacy than placebos given orally.
But without finding the actual study publication, it's hard to say how significant this result was or if I even remember correctly...