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What is not so clear to some people, but is easily ferreted out from the evidence, is that acupuncture most likely works by classical conditioning and other factors that are often lumped together and referred to as "the placebo effect." Furthermore, in some cases sham acupuncture works better than other placebos.This does not mean that acupuncture is "all in the head," however.People can be conditioned to have physiological responses to placebos. (2001) demonstrated that "at least part of the physiological basis for the placebo effect is opioid in nature" (Bausell 2007: 160).That is, we can be conditioned to release such chemical substances as endorphins, catecholamines, cortisol, and adrenaline. Similar notions about a part of the body being an organ map are held by those who practice iridology (the iris is the map of the body) and reflexology (the foot is the map of the body) and traditional Chinese medicine (the tongue is the map of the body). There are other variations as well, such as microacupuncture, which uses forty-eight non-traditional acupoints located on the hands and feet, and auriculotherapy or ear acupuncture, which postulates that the ear is a map of the bodily organs.
So can a lot of other things of course, like running a marathon, having an orgasm, eating habanero chiles, or getting a saline injection that you think is morphine.
Some of the stories are unquestionably true and probably justify the conclusion that the treatment was effective.
For example, the pain in your wrist is so severe that you can't grip the brake on your bicycle.
Some acupuncturists use low energy laser beams; others use magnetic BBs on patches applied to acupoints.
There are many different kinds of acupuncture, involving different kinds of needles, different insertion points, different techniques, and the use of various accompaniments such as electricity or moxibustion.