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Because fascia

Paul Ingraham ARCHIVEDMicroblog posts are archived and rarely updated. In contrast, most long-form articles on are updated regularly over the years (see updates page).

This popular article about how acupuncture works “because fascia” is riddled with problems. Alt-med celebrity Helene Langevin makes a mountain out of a biology molehill: the mildly interesting fact that tissue is a bit “grabby” and hangs onto acupuncture needles. This may or may not have anything to do with fascia, but so what if it does? Does it matter? Can such tiny fascial stretches relieve pain? In fact, we know that they don’t, because we know that acupuncture proper doesn’t relieve pain, and therefore doesn’t need any explaining in terms of fascia or anything else. Nevertheless, this is the purpose of the article, and Langevin lobs out a major bonus, bogus premise to clinch her case that acupuncture is probably all about fascia: according to her own research, acupuncture meridians correspond to fascial structures. But the “mysterious” meridians are “nothing more than a rudimentary and prescientific model of blood vessels and nerves” (Kavoussi), because until about a hundred years ago, acupuncture was pretty much the Eastern version of bloodletting, and its needles were more like little knives. There is no meaningful connection between fascia and acupuncture meridians. This article is a classic example — one of the best — of trying to make fascia (and acupuncture) sound much more medically important than the evidence can possibly justify.

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