What is Acupuncture good for?

Acupuncture for the Treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Review of Evidence-Based Research

http://www.naturalmedicinejournal.com/pdf/NMJ_APR10_LR.pdf By Joe C. Chang, MAOM, LAc Abstract The purpose of this article is to evaluate the evidence for the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) through a literature review of the current research. Since studies on the use of acupuncture for the treatment of PTSD are lacking, studies assessing acupuncture’s role in mitigating individual symptoms of PTSD, such as migraines, anxiety, depression, and insomnia, as well as the modulatory effects of acupuncture on the limbic system, were also included in the literature review. Conclusion Even though current research studies on the use of acupuncture for the treatment of PTSD is scarce, current research suggests that acupuncture may be an efficacious treatment option for PTSD. One randomized controlled trial on the use of acupuncture for PTSD on the civilian population demonstrated significant reductions in PTSD symptoms scores from baseline to end-treatment in the acupuncture group. Additionally, treatment effects for depression, anxiety, and impairment in the acupuncture group improved significantly more than the WLC group. Studies assessing acupuncture’s role in mitigating individual symptoms of PTSD, such as migraines, anxiety, depression, and insomnia, demonstrate significant reductions in these symptoms for the studies’ participants. Clinical and experimental data also suggest that at least some acupuncture clinical results are mediated in the central nervous system. fMRI and PET studies on acupuncture at specific acupuncture points have demonstrated significant fMRI neuronal signal reduction in the limbic system. This study could possibly explain the sedating effects of acupuncture on patients with anxiety disorders, which could be an effective treatment plan for PTSD patients with severe hyperarousal. Hoge CW, McGurk D, Thomas JL, Cox AL, Engel CC, Castro CA. Mild traumatic brain injury in U.S. Soldiers returning from Iraq. N Engl J Med. 2008;358(5):453-463.
Arch Intern Med. 1998 Nov 9;158(20):2235-41.

Acupuncture for back pain: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Department of Complementary Medicine, Postgraduate Medical School, University of Exeter, England. E.Ernst@ex.ac.uk


Acupuncture is commonly used to treat back pain, but there is no published meta-analysis of trials of its effectiveness for this condition.


To perform a meta-analysis of trials of acupuncture for the treatment of back pain.


A systematic literature search was conducted to retrieve all randomized controlled trials of any form of acupuncture for any type of back pain in humans. The adequacy of the acupuncture treatment was assessed by consulting 6 experienced acupuncturists. The main outcome measure for the meta-analysis was numbers of patients whose symptoms were improved at the end of treatment.


Twelve studies were included, of which 9 presented data suitable for meta-analysis. The odds ratio of improvement with acupuncture compared with control intervention was 2.30 (95% confidence interval, 1.28-4.13). For sham-controlled, evaluator-blinded studies, the odds ratio was 1.37 (95% confidence interval, 0.84-2.25).


Acupuncture was shown to be superior to various control interventions, although there is insufficient evidence to state whether it is superior to placebo.  

Role of acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility.

Chang R, Chung PH, Rosenwaks Z.

Source:  The Institute of East-West Medicine, New York, New York 10021, USA


To review existing scientific rationale and clinical data in the utilization of acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility.


Although the understanding of acupuncture is based on ancient medical theory, studies have suggested that certain effects of acupuncture are mediated through endogenous opioid peptides in the central nervous system, particularly beta-endorphin. Because these neuropeptides influence gonadotropin secretion through their action on GnRH, it is logical to hypothesize that acupuncture may impact on the menstrual cycle through these neuropeptides. Although studies of adequate design, sample size, and appropriate control on the use of acupuncture on ovulation induction are lacking, there is only one prospective randomized controlled study examining the efficacy of acupuncture in patients undergoing IVF. Besides its central effect, the sympathoinhibitory effects of acupuncture may impact on uterine blood flow.


Although the definitive role of acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility is yet to be established, its potential impact centrally on the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis and peripherally on the uterus needs to be systemically examined. Prospective randomized controlled studies are needed to evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture in female fertility treatment.

Acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer significantly improves the reproductive outcome in infertile women: a prospective, randomized trial

  • Lars G. Westergaard, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Qunhui Mao, M.D.
  • Marianne Krogslund
  • Steen Sandrini
  • Suzan Lenz, M.D., Ph.D
  • Jørgen Grinsted, M.D., Ph.D.
Received 25 January 2005; received in revised form 12 August 2005; accepted 12 August 2005. published online 05 April 2006


To evaluate the effect of acupuncture on reproductive outcome in patients treated with IVF/intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). One group of patients received acupuncture on the day of ET, another group on ET day and again 2 days later (i.e., closer to implantation day), and both groups were compared with a control group that did not receive acupuncture.


During the study period all patients receiving IVF or ICSI treatment were offered participation in the study. On the day of oocyte retrieval, patients were randomly allocated (with sealed envelopes) to receive acupuncture on the day of ET (ACU 1 group, n = 95), on that day and again 2 days later (ACU 2 group, n = 91), or no acupuncture (control group, n = 87).


Acupuncture was performed immediately before and after ET (ACU 1 and 2 groups), with each session lasting 25 minutes; and one 25-minute session was performed 2 days later in the ACU 2 group.

Main Outcome Measure(s)

Clinical pregnancy and ongoing pregnancy rates in the three groups.


Clinical and ongoing pregnancy rates were significantly higher in the ACU 1 group as compared with controls (37 of 95 [39%] vs. 21 of 87 [26%] and 34 of 95 [36%] vs. 19 of 87 [22%]). The clinical and ongoing pregnancy rates in the ACU 2 group (36% and 26%) were higher than in controls, but the difference did not reach statistical difference.


Acupuncture on the day of ET significantly improves the reproductive outcome of IVF/ICSI, compared with no acupuncture. Repeating acupuncture on ET day +2 provided no additional beneficial effect.