• [Richard] Harris is unfazed, arguing that regardless of the sceptics, wider opinion is moving towards an acceptance of acupuncture. “Some people are not willing to change, despite the evidence,” he says. “But gradually, we are seeing a shift.”


    For MacPherson, the acupuncture advocate from the University of York, that’s a compelling result. “He’s showing changes in the brain in response to acupuncture that are clearly linked to the person’s improving clinical symptoms,” he says. MacPherson cautions that decisions regarding whether acupuncture should be prescribed to patients must always be based on clinical improvements in trials, not mechanistic studies, but he describes Harris and Napadow as “pioneers”, arguing that research like this is important for understanding how acupuncture might work, and suggesting how clinical trials could be better designed to pick up its effects.