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Evidence-based acupuncture

On this page, you’ll find a set of useful links for visitors who want to delve into the evidence base for acupuncture.


The 2,000-year-old acupuncture tradition is often framed in the proto-science of the times that gave rise to it. Acupuncture could not have thrived across cultures and millennia without reflecting the realities that our modern understanding of the natural world help us frame. All acupuncture works because the body responds physiologically to the insertion of needles. Our constant search for evidence renews acupuncture as a practice, bringing it into the modern world, which means into the mainstream of modern medicine.




Acupuncture: What You Need To Know

  • A useful overview of acupuncture from the perspective of the National Institutes of Health.

Evidence on acupuncture therapies is underused in clinical practice and health policy

  • A survey of acupuncture’s effectiveness from the British Medical Journal, now called BMJ.

Methodological challenges in design and conduct of randomised, controlled trials in acupuncture

  • Don’t be put off by this technical-sounding title. It’s an interesting and user-friendly summary of an article by sophisticated researchers of the challenges acupuncture presents when put to rigorous scientific investigation. Two key findings:

    • “Acupuncture is a complex intervention and when tested in trials is often oversimplified and poorly documented.”

    • “Vital elements that acupuncturists consider important are often under-reported and oversimplified [in research studies]. These include acupuncture dose, length of needles, depth of insertion, number of needles, and manipulation after insertion; patient-doctor communication during the diagnostic and treatment process; expertise of acupuncturists; combination with other therapies; and personalization of the intervention.”


Exploring the Science of Acupuncture from the perspective of inflammation

  • A somewhat technical overview of acupuncture’s anti-inflammatory response, from the Harvard Medical School. Included here because of widespread concern about role of inflammation in health and illness.

Evidence-based Acupuncture

  • From the website: “Evidence Based Acupuncture (EBA) was founded by Dr Bartosz Chmielnicki, MD in 2014 to offer evidence-based summaries of acupuncture for a wide-variety of clinical conditions using the language of science. Through clearly communicating acupuncture’s body of scientific research using the language of biochemistry and physiology, we enable patients, clinicians, and healthcare decision makers to best leverage this powerful treatment with has huge potential to improve and save lives while offering excellent value.”


Acupuncture, from the Mayo Clinic

  • An overview of acupuncture from a “temple” of Western medicine. A user-friendly if slightly tepid endorsement of acupuncture’s role in helping patients within an approach that defines the mainstream view.


© William Weinstein 2024

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