The Acupuncture Evidence Project

"It is no longer possible to say that the effectiveness of acupuncture is because of the placebo effect, or that it is useful only for musculoskeletal pain."

“A total of 136 systematic reviews, including 27 Cochrane systematic reviews were included in this review, along with three network meta-analyses, nine reviews of reviews and 20 other reviews. Meta-analyses were conducted for 62 of the non-Cochrane systematic reviews. This review includes pooled data from more than 1,000 randomised controlled trials.

“Of the 122 conditions identified, strong evidence supported the effectiveness of acupuncture for 8 conditions, moderate evidence supported the use of acupuncture for a further 38 conditions, weak positive/unclear evidence supported the use of acupuncture for 71 conditions, and little or no evidence was found for the effectiveness of acupuncture for five conditions (meaning that further research is needed to clarify the effectiveness of acupuncture in these last two categories).”

For more information, click here.

Pain

"Research into acupuncture has grown exponentially in the past 20 years... at twice the rate of research into conventional biomedicine. Over this period, there have been over 13,000 studies conducted in 60 countries, including hundreds of meta-analyses summarizing the results of thousands of human and animal studies. A wide-variety of clinical areas have been studied, including pain, cancer, pregnancy, stroke, mood disorders, sleep disorders and inflammation, to name a few."

“For acute pain, a systematic review of 13 trials found that acupuncture was more effective than both sham needling and injection with painkillers.

“A meta-analysis of 17,922 patients from randomized trials concluded, “Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option. Significant differences between true and sham acupuncture indicate that acupuncture is more than a placebo.” A follow up study with this data looking at long-term pain relief, found that the benefits of acupuncture persisted 12 months after treatment ended.

For more evidence on acupuncture for pain, click here.

How Acupuncture Works

In simple terms, acupuncture works by stimulating the body to do what it naturally does. Extensive research into the physiological mechanisms of acupuncture show a wide range of effects on the nervous system (via biochemical and mechanical pathways), and through the  purinergic signaling system via adenosine and ATP (which helps explain acupuncture’s broad regulatory benefits for the whole body). Citations and more details about these findings can be found here.

Other findings show interesting possibilities in fascial neuromodulation, mast cell-nerve cell interaction, and regulation of blood flow in the brain, organs and other tissues of the body.