The Science of Acupuncture


For thousands of years, what we now think of as complementary and alternative medicine was the only medicine available. This film investigates why science is starting to respond to these centuries-old remedies.

Scientist Kathy Sykes takes us to China, where she sees some incredible demonstrations of acupuncture. In a Chinese hospital doctors perform 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? We meet key scientists both in the UK and in the US, who have put them to the test. The Science of Acupuncture uncovers 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 acupuncture is having a powerful effect.

Kathy recruits a team of top scientists and alternative practitioners to find out if acupuncture might be having an effect. Over several months they devise an experiment which they hope will find the answer and finally uncover the secrets of acupuncture. Kathy and her team scan the brains of volunteers undergoing acupuncture. The conclusions challenge current understandings of the brain and throws new light on this ancient practice.

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