Below is a summary of modern research on acupuncture for various disorders:
Acupuncture given an evidence rating of “A”, the same rating given to analgesics, such as acetaminophen and Ultram, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs).
Last, A, Hulbert, K. Chronic Low Back Pain: Evaluation and Management. American Family Physician. 2009; 79(12): 1067-1074. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2009/0615/p1067.html. Accessed April 19, 2016.
In a March, 2011 overview aimed at evaluating and summarizing transparent and rigorous Cochrane reviews of acupuncture in the treatment of pain four reviews concluded that acupuncture is effective for migraines, neck disorders, tension-type headaches, and peripheral joint osteoarthritis. Each of these reviews were reported as being of high methodological quality.
Lee, M, Ernst, E. Acupuncture for pain: an overview of Cochrane reviews. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine. 2011; 17(3): 187-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21359919. Accessed April 19, 2016.
A systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that acupuncture was superior to sham acupuncture for both knee pain and function, in both short-term and long-term follow-up. Acupuncture was also significantly superior to usual care.
White, A, Foster, N, Cummings, M, Barlas, P. Acupuncture treatment for chronic knee pain: a systematic review. Rheumatology. 2007; 46(3): 384-90. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17215263. Accessed April 19, 2016.
From a systematic review and meta-analysis of acupuncture to reduce cancer-related pain: “Acupuncture is effective in relieving cancer-related pain, particularly malignancy-related and surgery-induced pain… acupuncture can be adopted as part of a multimodal approach for reducing cancer-related pain.”
Chiu, H, Hsieh, Y, Tsai, P. Systematic review and meta-analysis of acupuncture to reduce cancer-related pain. European Journal of Cancer Care. 2016 [Epub ahead of print]. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26853524. Accessed April 19, 2016.
An overview of systematic reviews in Rheumatology reported “sufficiently sound” evidence to “warrant recommendations” of acupuncture for osteoarthritis, low back pain, and elbow pain.
Ernst, E, Lee, M. Acupuncture for rheumatic conditions: an overview of systematic reviews. Rheumatology. 2010; 49(10): 1957-61. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20591833. Accessed April 19, 2016.
For temporomandibular disorders: A systematic review of RCTS using the criteria set out in th Cochrane Handbook demonstrated acupuncture was more effective than physical therapy, indomethacin plus vitamin B1, and a wait-list control group. Additionally, acupuncture had effect beyond placebo effect and that similar to occlusal splint therapy.
Cho, S, Whang, W. Acupuncture for temporomandibular disorders: a systematic review. Journal of Orofacial Pain. 2010; 24(2): 152-62. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20401353. Accessed April 20, 2016.
From a systematic review and meta-analysis of acupuncture for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD): “The efficacy of acupuncture as monotherapy was comparable to antidepressants alone in improving clinical response and alleviating symptom severity of MDD… The incidence of adverse events in acupuncture intervention was significantly lower than antidepressants.”
Zhang, ZJ, Chen, HY, Yip, KC, Ng, R, Wong, V. The effectiveness and safety of acupuncture therapy in depressive disorders: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2009; doi:10.1016/j.jad.2009.07.005.
In a systematic review of acupuncture for gastrointestinal diseases the quality of life improved in all trials. The authors referred to acupuncture as a “harmless and obviously powerful therapy.”
Schneider, A, Streitberger, K, Joos, S. Acupuncture treatment in gastrointestinal diseases: a systematic review. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2007; 13(25): 3417- 24. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17659687. Accessed April 20, 2016.
A systematic review concluded that, alongside reasonable diet and exercise, acupuncture is “safe andeffective” for treatment of simple obesity.
Lin, X et al. [Systematic evaluation of therapeutic effect of acupuncture for treatment of simple obesity]. [Article inChinese]. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2009; 29(10): 856-60. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19873927. Accessed April 20, 2016.
The journal Neurological Sciences reports that systematic reviews suggest acupuncture is both effective andcost-effective for migraines, as well as tension headaches.
Schiapparelli, P et. al. Acupuncture in primary headache treatment. Neurological sciences. 2011; 32 Suppl 1; S15-8.
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21533705. Accessed April 20, 2016.
In a systematic review of acupuncture for insomnia acupuncture was found to be superior to medicationsfor “number of patients with total sleep duration increased >3 hours”; when combined with medications,better than medications alone for total sleep duration; and no serious side effects with acupuncture treatments.
Cao, H, Pan, X, Li, H, Liu, J. Acupuncture for treatment of insomnia: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials.The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2009; 15(11); 1171-1186.
www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2009.0041. Accessed April 20, 2016.