The correction of foetal malposition is achieved by applying moxibustion to an acupuncture point on the little toe. In about 60 per cent of women the foetus turns naturally prior to the thirty-fourth week of pregnancy; this can be increased to 90 per cent with the aid of moxibustion. After the thirty-fourth week, when natural version is less likely, the Chinese claim that 80 per cent of foetal malpositions will be corrected permanently by this procedure. Once corrected, the malposition does not recur, provided moxibustion is applied daily. There seems to be no available physiological basis with which to explain this finding.
Anaesthesia for Labour and Delivery
Acupuncture anaesthesia is widely used for Caesarean sections in China. A report recently published by the Chinese, discusses the results of 1,000 cases managed in this manner. The Chinese claim a 98 per cent success rate in the abolition of pain, a quicker recovery rate from the operation, less blood loss, and the obvious advantage of the mother being able to see the baby at, or soon after, birth. This report finds acupuncture a superior form of analgesia compared to other forms of pain relief (general or epidural anaesthesia) for Caesarean section. This success rate is astonishingly high and may well be a rather 'enthusiastic' claim.
Acupuncture can also be used to provide pain relief in normal obstetric deliveries. Adequate assessment of this form of obstetric analgesia has not yet been published, although the experience of a wide variety of acupuncturists in the West would indicate that it is a useful and effective procedure.
Acupuncture anaesthesia is widely used in China. It often provides the highlight to a 'tourist trip' and has been filmed for the Western media on many occasions. Acupuncture anaesthesia has been used in a wide variety of operations, from minor procedures to open heart surgery. It is undoubtedly an effective form of pain relief in the majority of people, but there is always a small percentage who fail to gain adequate analgesia from acupuncture. These failures are quoted at between one and twenty per cent, depending on the operation and the assessments used.
In general, acupuncture allows for a safer operation, with less likelihood of complications, and a swifter post-operative recovery. The main problem is that pain relief may be inadequate and this is unacceptable within the context of Western health care.
One of the main criticisms of acupuncture anaesthesia is that 'it's alright for the Chinese, but won't work on Europeans'. Acupuncture anaesthesia has been used in a variety of European. centers, and the success and failure rate is much the same as in China. Acupuncture anaesthesia is a useful method of pain relief and could well be applicable to minor procedures, or post-perative pain relief, within the context of a Western medical system.
- 1 The effect of acupuncture on endorphin levels is discussed in Chapter 3.