The results of this and another study done at Linköping University in Sweden, which found no significant difference in response from those getting so-called verum (or "true") acupuncture and so-called minimal (or "sham") acupuncture, provide evidence against the accuracy of the traditional Chinese meridians map. It doesn't seem to matter where you stick the needles, whether you stick them in deeply or twirl them, or whether you stick them in at all. The concept of chi seems superfluous in this context.
The Linköping study involved "215 patients with various types of cancer who got either active acupuncture or a sham treatment that involved an identical looking and feeling needle that retracted into the handle on contact with the skin."* This method prevents the patients from knowing whether they've actually been stuck with a needle. The patients were given conventional radiotherapy during the trials. Many believers in acupuncture think it is effective in relieving nausea. Both the verum and the sham groups believed the treatment had been invasive and effective in reducing nausea: "68 percent of patients who got the acupuncture experienced nausea for an average of 19 days during radiotherapy and 61 percent of the patients who got the sham treatment suffered nausea for an average of 17 days....Vomiting was experienced by 24 percent of the patients getting acupuncture and 28 percent of patients receiving the sham treatment....Fifty-eight of the patients received chemotherapy in combination with radiotherapy. Among them, 82 percent of those in the acupuncture group developed nausea, compared with 80 percent of those treated with the sham needles....66 percent of patients who got acupuncture and 71 percent who got the sham treatment said they would be highly interested in having acupuncture again if it turned out they needed another course of radiotherapy." The differences between the two groups are not statistically significant. These results strongly suggest that acupuncture provides a placebo effect.
Some of the acupuncture studies supported by the Office of Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health try to mimic traditional control group studies, but no control study will reveal if chi was unblocked or if yin and yang are in or out of harmony. In any case, many, if not most, of the studies by advocates of acupuncture suffer from having a small number of participants or lack of adequate controls for the placebo effect (Bausell 2007). Typical of these studies is one posted on the New Scientist website on December 20, 2007, with the headline: