Paracetamol, Pain and Acupuncture

Since the arrival of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the West, pain alleviation or relief has been one of the regularly observed benefits of treatment with needles (Acupuncture TCM). A client with a main complain of, say, lower back pain, would, on arrival at the clinic of a PRTCM member, be given a full Chinese Medical diagnosis on the basis of which two or three specific acupuncture points might be selected. The needles would normally stay in place for about 20 minutes.

In light of this, the following news item on pain relief and paracetamol, reported in many Newspapers and News Reports, made interesting reading/listening this week. (Currently, the cost of such drugs represents a significant expense for the patient and/or the government and there is the added danger of drug side-effects from excessive or persistent use.)

The recent paper by Machedo and Colleagues1 examining the efficacy and safety of paracetamol for spinal pain and osteoarthritis, concludes:

“Paracetamol is ineffective in the treatment of low back pain and provides minimal short term benefit for people with osteoarthritis. These results support the reconsideration of recommendations to use paracetamol for patients with low back pain and osteoarthritis of the hip or knee in clinical practice guidelines.”

Commenting on the above, an Editorial in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) 2 states:

“Ongoing and ever increasing concerns about pharmacological management of musculoskeletal pain highlights the importance of non-pharmacological options, which form the cornerstone of self management of spinal pain and osteoarthritis. NICE recommends that all patients with osteoarthritis should receive written information with advice about maintaining or increasing physical activity and optimising weight (if appropriate); exercise, manual therapy, acupuncture, and psychological support are also recommended for those with back pain.”


Efficacy and safety of paracetamol for spinal pain and osteoarthritis,Machedo and Colleagues, 31 March 2015, BMJ 2015;350:h1225

Managing back pain and osteoarthritis without paracetamol 2 A BMJ Editorial by Christian Mallen, 31 March 2015, BMJ 2015;350:h1352

The PRTCM Is Now in Facebook

We are pleased to announce the launch of a Facebook page for the PRTCM (The Professional Register of Traditional Chinese Medicine).

The PRTCM is the oldest Register of Practitioners of Acupuncture and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) in Ireland, founded in 1983. It represents practitioners who are fully qualified in one or more TCM specialist fields:

Acupuncture TCM
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Medical Qigong

All our Members  have Professional Indemnity and Public Liability Insurance and are insured to practise in  any part of Ireland or the UK.

This year, as usual, we have new members  to add to the list and there are now practitioners in most parts of Ireland, and in some parts of the UK – including Northern Ireland, Wales and England.

Information about Practitioners in your area can be accessed from


Chinese Medicine in “The Phoenix”

Members who are graduates of the ICTCM will be pleased to hear that the recent edition of “The Phoenix” contains an interview with Professor Tom Shanahan and information about the Master and Doctoral Degrees in Chinese Medicine.

This is an exciting time for Acupuncture education in Ireland (and the rest of Europe) and I am sure that PRTCM members will all be wishing the College well as it embarks on this new venture.


IMB issues a warning about unlicensed Chinese herbal medicines sold online

Excerpt from the IMB website:

The IMB has been made aware of recent warnings issued by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the medicines regulatory authority in the UK and the Hong Kong Department of Health.

The MHRA warning was in response to an alert issued by the Hong Kong health authorities in relation to potentially dangerous unlicensed Chinese herbal medicines sold online. Some products were found to contain excessive levels of mercury or lead.

To date, these products have not been identified as being supplied to Irish customers via the Internet  or otherwise imported.

Read more…

The advice given by IBM was based on the warning issued by the MHRA, The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency in the UK:

The MHRA is advising consumers not to use the products specified below due to concerns about possible side effects.

Product names:

  • [W.S.] Tian Ma Toutong Wan
  • Shi Hu Ye Guang Wan (Ye Guang Wan)
  • Nai Chang Ming Yan Pills (Ming Yan Pills)
  • [Fung Shing Pai] Tian-Ma Wan
  • Bak Foong Pills (11 products – see below for details)

The Hong Kong Department of Health has warned consumers not to purchase or use specific batches of these products after they were found to contain excessive levels of lead or mercury. Ingestion of excessive amounts of heavy metals such as lead or mercury poses serious health risks because the metals may accumulate in vital organs of the body. Children are most susceptible to the toxic effects. Shi Hu Ye Guang Wan (Ye Guang Wan) is also known to contain Antelope Horn (Cornu Saigae Tataricae), Bak Foong contains Deer’s Antler and Tian Ma Toutong Wan contains Aconitum carmichaeli root-prep (Aconitum is prohibited for internal use in the UK under SI 2130).

Read more…

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