I’m not apologising for posting again about the evidence-based research that supports the use of acupuncture for good wellbeing and health. This article is an interesting American summary. At the end it brings together some of the main research articles upon which we all base our practice. This is a section of the piece reproduced below, but click above to read the whole thing.
What is the research on acupuncture?
PubMed lists more than 1,000 randomized controlled trials that have assessed either the efficacy (is it better than placebo?) or effectiveness (is it at least as good as other treatments?) of acupuncture. Many of these trials have been summarized in systematic, condition-specific reviews.
While the trend in recent trials is to reflect the real-world practice of acupuncture, earlier studies often tested acupuncture with inadequate treatment protocols. For example, a study on patients with asthma investigated the use of a single acupuncture treatment at one acupuncture point (which is like testing the effectiveness of a drug by giving it once instead of the full recommended course).
For what conditions?
Acupuncture on handThe NIH Consensus Development Conference, mentioned above, concluded that acupuncture is emerging as an effective treatment for a broad range of conditions. More specifically, the statement highlighted the “…efficacy of acupuncture for postoperative- and chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting and for postoperative dental pain.” It added that “…acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative…for other conditions, such as myofascial pain, low back pain, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, headache, menstrual cramps, fibromyalgia, and asthma.”
More recently the Society for Acupuncture Research held a conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the NIH consensus statement. Presenters noted improvements in the breadth and quality of research over the past decade (publications pending). Research surrounding conditions such as low back pain and osteoarthritis has continued to produce positive results. Likewise, new conditions for which acupuncture may be beneficial are emerging, such as anxiety, peri- and post-operative pain, and numerous Women’s Health conditions.
How do I find studies?
The most complete resource for acupuncture research is PubMed. Begin your search by entering the keyword “acupuncture” along with the name of the condition (e.g. low back pain). Below are examples of recent studies:
Deng, et al. (2007). Randomized, controlled trial of acupuncture for the treatment of hot flashes in breast cancer patients. J Clin Oncol., 25(35), 5584-5590.
Scharf, et al. (2006). Acupuncture and knee osteoarthritis: a three-armed randomized trial. Ann Intern Med., 4, 145(1), 12-20.
Witt, et al. (2008). Acupuncture in patients with dysmenorrhea: a randomized study on clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness in usual care. Am J Obstet.Gynecol., 198(2), 166-168.
Witt, et al. (2006). Pragmatic randomized trial evaluating the clinical and economic effectiveness of acupuncture for chronic low back pain. Am J Epidemiol., 164, 487-496.
Xue, et al. (2007). Acupuncture for persistent allergic rhinitis: a randomized, sham-controlled trial. Med J Aust., 187(6), 337-341.
Zaborowska, et al. (2007). Effects of acupuncture, applied relaxation, estrogens and placebo on hot flushes in postmenopausal women: An analysis of two prospective, parallel, randomized studies. Climacteric, 10(1), 38-45.