As you will of seen from my other blogs acupuncture has been getting more and more acceptance, more and more research and more and more understanding, which is great! However, there is still a long way to go. While acupuncture is being recommended for more conditions, by more health institutions and being added to more national health services and health insurance policies, it is still rarely available on the NHS. I don’t imagine there will be huge leaps forward in this in 2018, however, there are a few areas that I hope will receive more acceptance and hopefully gain some provision as a result.
Acupuncture for pain is probably the most researched area, I have written a lot of blogs on this and it is the area that is getting the most traction, however, few pain conditions have NICE guidelines, which allow the NHS to provide for them. I hope that this will change over 2018. I also hope that the Cochrane collaboration (the most respected medical research group) will update some of their reviews into pain conditions and that they will represent some of the leaps in research that have happened in the last years.
Acupuncture for mental health is less researched, however, the standard medical approach for this area is hugely lacking and many people on medication for a long time don’t get better and/or suffer challenging side effects. This is an area that acupuncture has a lot to give and is really close to my heart. I have worked a lot with people with mental ill health over the last 5 years and hope I can continue to do more. My hope for 2018 is that larger pieces of research become available in at least anxiety and depression. The latter has more research and acupuncture is recommended for it by the WHO, but this is still not enough.
There are a few NICE guidelines reviews that are due in 2018; depression, rheumatoid arthritis and endometriosis. I hope that acupuncture will be included in all of these guidelines, although that might be a bit too hopeful. Endometriosis is something that I have had success at treating with acupuncture and that current medical approaches are either not very successful at treating or too invasive. I hope it will at least get a mention in the review. Rheumatoid arthritis definitely needs better treatment approaches, acupuncture can reduce flare-ups and pain, and combined with herbs and diet and lifestyle approaches can go a long way and without side-effects that can be lethal over the long-term. However, it takes time to build up the effects of acupuncture and a cure is unlikely. Although to get that far and without side-effects is a huge boon for rheumatoid arthritis suffers and so acupuncture can have a role to play. If it were available on the NHS it would certainly break down the financial barriers that can occur with longer treatment strategies for many people. In the depression guidelines acupuncture will be mentioned, however, I really hope it will get full guidelines.
The Cochrane collaboration has a number of outdated reviews for acupuncture, including; shoulder pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, tennis elbow, insomnia, endometriosis, irritable bowel syndrome and back pain. Some of the old reviews did state that there is some evidence of a positive effect. My prediction is that over 2018, any updates that are published in these areas with be even more positive and hopefully lead to policy makers taking notice.
Hopeful some, or ideally all of these hopes and predictions will come to pass. Only time will tell. I hope you have many hopes and dreams for 2018 that also come to pass.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!