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Acupuncture deserves better coverage

The Baltimore VA Medical Center is joining other VA centers in turning to a treatment called battlefield acupuncture, among other therapies, to treat pain in former service members as part of an effort to reduce reliance on opioids that no longer work or have lead to substance use problems. (Ulysses Muñoz, Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun video)

Wow! Meredith Cohn's article on the use of acupuncture at the Baltimore VA Medical Center is about as biased and ignorant of acupuncture as they come, and I have seen too much bias lately in The Baltimore Sun (“Baltimore VA doctors try acupuncture to treat veterans’ pain,” Jan. 5). Who is this Steven Salzberg whom she quoted? He is not connected to the story at all, just a professor of biomedical engineering and computer information who happens to have an opinion about acupuncture. We all have opinions. He does not represent Johns Hopkins, which has many doctors who use acupuncture along with medical treatments. In fact, Hopkins covers acupuncture under their employee health plans.

Why not interview someone informed such as a representative from the thriving Maryland University of Integrative Health in Laurel, or the Maryland Acupuncture Society, Inc. or Alaine Duncan, an acupuncturist in Silver Spring who specializes in working with trauma and veterans? But no, Steven Salzberg says that acupuncture is quackery and has no credible scientific studies, which is patently untrue. Did Ms. Cohn bother to mention that acupuncture is endorsed by World Health Organization or NIH? Did she mention that the acupuncture used in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs clinics is a protocol developed by a military physician acupuncturist? She did bury that fact almost at the end of the article while putting statements such as a "version of acupuncture" in the first paragraph.

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And how is the scientifically-backed opioid prescription medical treatment working out for you? The Sun is doing a disservice to readers don't know anything about acupuncture and might be dissuaded by her article from seeking the relief that acupuncture treatments have offered for over 3,000 years.

Karen Oliva, Baltimore

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The writer is a licensed acupuncturist.

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