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Acupuncture Research

The following are some examples of the latest research being conducted in both Asia and the West into the efficacy of Acupuncture for treating a broad range of conditions.


Acupuncture in combination with routine care was shown to be clinically effective in treating osteoarthritis (OA). In a randomized, controlled trial conducted at the Charite University Medical Centre, Berlin, Germany, 3,633 patients with chronic pain due to OA of the knee or hip were randomly allocated to undergo up to 15 sessions of acupuncture in a 3-month period or to a control group receiving no acupuncture. All patients received standard medical care. Clinical OA severity (Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index [WOMAC]) and health-related quality of life (Short Form 36) were assessed at baseline, after 3 months and at 6 months. The Acupuncture group had a significant improvement in their condition and quality of life relative to the group that received standard care only.

Witt CM et al. (2006). Efficacy of treating Osteoarthritis with Acupuncture in combination with routine care. Arthritis Rheumatology. 54(11):3485-3492

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Study 1:
Electro-Acupuncture (EA) was shown to be effective in treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Forty patients at The First Hospital affiliated to Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, China, were  randomly selected to EA treatment.  EA was applied to 5-visceral Back-shu points. The effectiveness of the treatment was assessed using Fatigue Assessment Instrument (FAI) and Symptom Checklist 90 (SCL-90), administered before and after treatment.  The scores on both instruments have decreased significantly after EA treatment, suggesting that EA applied to Back-shu points is an effective intervention in alleviating symptoms of CFS.

Wang O. (2005). Chronic fatigue Syndrome treatment with Electro-Acupuncture. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi.25(9):834-6.

Study 2:

Another study from The First Hospital of Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in China compared the effects of EA and auricular-plaster therapy on CFS with routine western medication. Sixty-four patients were randomly allocated to the treatment with either EA and auricular-plaster therapy or with oral hydrocortisone. The treatment group receiving EA and auricular-plaster therapy showed a significantly higher rate of improvement then the control group receiving routine western medication.

Yuemei, L. (2006). Effects of Electro-Acupuncture with auricular-plaster therapy on Chronic fatigue Syndrome. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine. (3):163-4.

Low Back Pain

Acupuncture was shown to provide immediate relief of low back pain as compared with sham acupuncture. A randomised, evaluator-blinded, placebo-controlled trial was conducted at the Department of Acupuncture, Meiji University of Oriental Medicine, Japan. Thirty-one patients with low back pain were randomly allocated to either an acupuncture group or a sham acupuncture group. Both acupuncture and sham acupuncture were performed at the most sensitive point on the lower back for each patient. For the acupuncture group, a stainless steel needle was inserted to a depth of 20 mm and manually stimulated (sparrow pecking method) for 20 seconds, whilst for the sham treatment group a guide tube without a needle was placed at the point and tapped on the skin. Changes in low back pain severity were evaluated with a visual analogue scale (VAS) and the Schober test. The therapy and the evaluation were independently performed by two different acupuncturists. The scores on both the VAS and the Schober test showed significant improvement after acupuncture as compared with sham acupuncture treatment. 

Inoue, M. et al. (2006). Relief of low back pain immediately after acupuncture treatment – a randomised, placebo controlled study. Acupuncture Medicine. 24(3): 103-8.

Postmenopausal Hot Flashes and Sleep Quality

Acupuncture was found to significantly reduce the severity of nocturnal hot flashes when compared with placebo. A prospective, randomised, placebo-controlled study was carried out at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA. Twenty-nine participants were given active or placebo acupuncture administered for nine sessions over seven weeks.  The severity and frequency of nocturnal hot flashes were assessed from daily diaries, whereas sleep quality was assessed using Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). The nocturnal hot-flash severity significantly decreased in the active acupuncture group compared with the placebo group. The frequency of nocturnal hot flashes in the active group also decreased, however not significantly more than in the placebo group. Active acupuncture treatment did not differentially influence sleep; however, there was a significant inverse correlation between PSQI scores and nocturnal hot flush severity and frequency, suggesting that the reduction in severity and frequency of nocturnal hot flashes might improve sleep quality in at least some cases. 

Huang M.I. et al. (2006). A randomized controlled pilot study of acupuncture for postmenopausal hot flashes: effect on nocturnal hot flashes and sleep quality. Fertility Sterility. 86(3):700-10