: Angus McDonald cont’d (page 3 of
What other sorts of things can you treat with acupuncture?
Well, I mentioned to you we do – about half of what we do are the musculo-skeletal
problems as I said before – the drug problems, the back aches, the arthritis.
Apart from that I do a lot of headaches, a lot of migraine problems.
Gynaecology – a lot of that. Menstrual problems, menopausal problems,
hot flushes. Can even do morning sickness. You can also, in fact, treat
fertility in men and women. In fact if you want, there was a girl recently
who tried to persuade me to deliver her baby under needles because she
didn’t want… I refused. I thought I might feint, but apart from that
I really couldn’t be called away when it wasn’t convenient. Apart from
that, nasal problems – you know, hayfever, sinus trouble, a lot of asthma.
It’s a pity we don’t do more asthma in children. It’s very effective
in children. A lot of children and put on steroids. I’m not denigrating
that, you understand but I just think it’s a pity they don’t come to
us because it would be better if we get them off them obviously. Don’t
see many cardio-vascular problems. We can treat high blood pressure
and angina, but the doctors have got that pretty well tied up with drugs.
As I said earlier, I find myself doing more and more pressure, anxiety,
fatigue business. All of these things. That’s mainly what we do.
Can a lot of these things be cured just in one visit?
Well that’s like going to a doctor and he gives you a bottle of antibiotics
and you take one pill and say well that was no use and you throw it
away. Occasionally things happen on one visit but it would be an ill
advised person who would suggest you should do that. It just doesn’t
work that way.
But with drugs you might have to take a course of drugs to actually
kill something that’s in the body but presumably acupuncture doesn’t
actually kill diseases.
Acupuncture really helps the body to cure itself but if you had a thing
for a while it would be a bit foolish to come along and look for miracles.
Occasionally you get remarkable results but that’s not the average.
People shouldn’t come along expecting a one shot treatment.
So acupuncture – if it’s going to help the body heal itself – is it
beneficial in AIDS or other diseases where the immune system is damaged?
There’s a lot of interesting work going on about AIDS actually. I’m
certainly not going to say it cures AIDS now. That would be silly. I’m
not going to suggest it cures cancer, but you can help these people.
You can help them with their illness. You can help them feel better
for example. As I say there’s a lot of work going on with AIDS now and
it shows it’s pretty useful at helping in many respects. With cancer,
apart from making people feel better, you can often help for example,
as you’ll know as well as I do, chemotherapy and those things often
induce nausea. You can often combat those particular problems.
So you can use it in conjunction with conventional medicine?
Sure. One of the beauties of acupuncture is it can be used in conjunction
with Western medicine. I wouldn’t dream of interfering with anybody’s
Western regime without the person consulting them. I wouldn’t do it.
You mentioned addictions. I know you said the body and the mind are
very linked in Chinese medicine but almost like when you cure a physical
ailment it’s then gone whereas with an addiction it is a craving that
goes on and on and on. Is it more effective in the long run for treating
physical things than what might be considered a mental ailment?
In terms of statistics, which you’re really asking me for, I’d need
to see a statistical comparison between the two which off hand I haven’t
seen. It’s interesting, though, that one of the Chinese journals a couple
of months ago did a statistical comparison for people smoking, for example,
and the use of acupuncture, and that particular journal – I can’t remember
how big the sample was – but it claimed that using Chinese methods it
was a sixty-off per cent ability for people to give up smoking whereas
using normal advice, et cetera, it was only about eight per cent. One
of the problems with smoking, of course, is if it’s an addiction or
is it a habit, of course. I know that’s a question of semantics – where
does one begin and the other end. You find quite a lot of smokers are
confined – they go to their mother in law’s for a few days and they
don’t really miss them. Where acupuncture is becoming more and more
invaluable is in the treatment of drugs. You find it’s spreading more
in the UK. This goes back quite a long time. Well, not that long. Back
in 1970 there was a gentleman called Dr Wen in Hong King found he used
to use the ear anaesthesia to sew up the chests of people who had taken
knives to one another and they were drug addicts and he noticed that
it appeared to help the addiction. So he wondered if it was coincidence
of course and he did a test with people who had not cut their chests
to pieces and he found that indeed it seemed to help it. At that time
in the Bronx in the Lincoln Clinic they weren’t very happy with their
own results – they had about a 19% rehabilitation rate using methadone
et cetera so they incorporated auricular acupuncture into it and doubled
their success rate. In fact I think it’s fair to say that the two main
centres in London that I know about, when they incorporated acupuncture,
doubled their success rates.
Would acupuncture ever be recommended by drug therapists for people
who are trying to come off?
I think it is being recommended. Certainly in most clinics where there
are drug therapists it is being recommended. If you ask me to tell you
how widely that is in the UK I really couldn’t tell you.
How about if somebody wanted to use it? Is it a very costly way to come
No. No. It’s one of the cheaper ways. That’s not to exclude some of
the other ways of course because people getting this are usually having
counselling. They are part of a range of treatments. But for example
you would only use needles in the ear. Now for people who of course
are very acute they will certainly need to see you once a day and if
they are all that acute they might need to see you perhaps twice a day
but obviously that’s highly inexpensive.
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