Clinical Studies into Acupuncture

Acupuncture use & benefits are traditional for over 3,000 years, and are supported by a significant breadth of research & clinical study.

Some of these studies include:

Acupuncture in Cardiovascular Disease (2002)
Acupuncture is used to lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension, and to relieve angina in patients with coronary artery disease. While the biological mechanisms of acupuncture analgesia have been studied intensely in animals and humans, the biological mechanisms for modulation of the cardiovascular system in humans remain largely unexplored.

The Effects of Acupuncture on Operative Pain and the Hormonal Responses to Stress (1988)
As an analgesic technique or adjuvant, acupuncture has been used most successfully in dental procedures and relatively superficial operations such as thyroidectomy; however, it has also been employed in more complex operations. The blood pressure and heart rate stability that have been observed with acupuncture analgesia have not been sufficiently explained and warrant further investigation, as does the possibility that acupuncture may be helpful in shock states characterized by increased stress hormone concentrations.

Increased Pain Threshold following Electroacupuncture: Analgesia is Induced Mainly in Meridian Acupuncture Points (1997)
Pain thresholds were determined before and after electroacupuncture of the dorsal aspect acupuncture points (AP) of the hand and non acupuncture points (NAP) located 15 mm from the traditional acupuncture points to assess changes in pain threshold thus provoked. The pain threshold increased significantly in all tested sites after electroacupuncture but the analgesic effect was predominant in those points lying along the acupuncture meridians.

Acupuncture in the Treatment of Heart Failure (2004)
Recent scientific studies of animal models of acupuncture support the concept that acupuncture produces release of endogenous opioids in the central nervous system, which in turn could inhibit central sympathetic outflow. Patients experiencing heart failure have markedly elevated sympathetic activity, and those with the greatest sympathetic activation have the worst survival. Preliminary data from our laboratory suggests that acupuncture could be sympatholytic in heart failure. We found that sympathetic activation during acute mental stress was virtually eliminated after acupuncture.

The Effect of Acupuncture Duration on Analgesia and Peripheral Sensory Thresholds (2008)
Longer durations of EA stimulation provide a more sustainable analgesic benefit to hot noxious stimulation than a shorter duration of stimulation. The increase of cold threshold with sustained warm threshold temperature elevation as observed in the longer durations of EA suggests that as the duration of EA lengthened, there is a gradual shifting from an initial predominantly spinally mediated analgesic effect to a supraspinally mediated modulatory mechanism of thermal pain. The 15-minute stimulation appeared to be the optimal setting for treating acute pain in the lower extremities.

The Effect of Ting point (Tendinomuscular Meridians) Electroacupuncture on Thermal Pain: a Model for Studying the Neuronal Mechanism of Acupuncture Analgesia (2005)
Electro-acupuncture at the TP has an inhibitory effect on the C-fiber afferents. The analgesic benefit observed is most likely A-delta afferent mediated. Further correlation studies in functional imaging may provide defining data for the observed analgesic mechanism.

Connections Found Between each Meridian (Heart, Stomach, Triple Burner, etc.) & Organ Representation Area of Corresponding Internal Organs in each side of the Cerebral Cortex (1989)
The author has been able to accurately localize meridians and acupuncture points that correspond to specific internal organs and has found that most general patterns of meridians and the number of acupuncture points on each of the meridians of specific internal organs of the 12 main internal organs described in the literature of ancient Chinese medicine, are more or less correct, with the exception of some variations and inaccuracies.

Acupuncture Inhibits Sympathetic Activation during Mental Stress in Advanced Heart Failure Patients (2002)
In heart failure (HF) patients, muscle sympathetic nerve activity is increased, and HF patients with the greatest sympathetic activation have the poorest prognosis. In animals, acupuncture is sympathoinhibitory, and the most profound sympathoinhibition occurs in animals with the highest resting sympathetic nerve activity. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that acupuncture is sympathoinhibitory in humans with HF.

Bilateral Acupuncture Analgesia Observed by Quantitative Sensory Testing in Healthy Volunteers (2010)
There is evidence that acupuncture activates different spinal and supraspinal antinociceptive systems, but the specific modulatory effects on the sensory system have not been systematically investigated. In this study, we evaluated the immediate effects of different types of acupuncture on thermal, mechanical, and vibratory sensory thresholds. There were congruent changes on QST after 3 common acupuncture stimulation methods, with possible unilateral as well as bilateral effects.

Clinical Research on the Therapeutic Effect of the Electro-Acupuncture Treatment in Patients with Depression (1998)
Electroacupuncture (EA) stimulation has been found to influence the brain (norepinephrine metabolism in experimental animals). Preliminary clinical research has shown that EA treatment is as effective as amitriptyline for patients with depression.

Meta-analysis on Randomized Controlled Clinical Trials of Acupuncture for Asthma (2010)
Acupuncture and moxibustion therapy can significantly improve the total effective rate of acupuncture for asthma. PEFR, FVC, FEV1 /FVC can be used as effectiveness indicators for evaluating the treatment for asthma. The FEV1 measurements did not have statistic significance. Due to the small number of RCT/CCT documents, the bias of the literatures and the lack of high-quality, large sample and multi-center reports, further studies are needed to explore the evidence of the findings.

Chinese Acupuncture for Chronic Shoulder Pain (2011)
65% response rate at 6 weeks compared with 24% with sham acupuncture and 37% with standard conservative orthopaedic treatment.

Acupuncture for Peripheral Joint Osteoarthritis (2010)
Peripheral joint osteoarthritis is a major cause of pain and functional limitation. Few treatments are safe and effective. In the head-on comparisons of acupuncture with the 'supervised osteoarthritis education' and the 'physician consultation' control groups, acupuncture was associated with clinically relevant short- and long-term improvements in pain and function.

Cost Effectiveness of Complementary Medicines (2010)
Once safety and efficacy have been established, a critical issue for consumers, practitioners and governments alike is understanding the cost effectiveness of medical interventions, whether mainstream or complementary. In 2009, the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM) commissioned Access Economics to undertake a series of cost effectiveness studies of selected complementary medicine interventions where a reasonable body of evidence for safety and efficacy was available.

Getting the Point with Acupuncture (2003)
Researchers at the University of Technology, Sydney have undertaken the first comprehensive and scientifically rigorous research into the effects of acupuncture on pain threshold, clarifying some of the basic assumptions about traditional Chinese acupuncture.

Willingness to try Acupuncture Again: Reports from Patients on their Treatment Reactions in a Low Back Pain Trial (2010)
Among this group of patients seeking help for low back pain, the experience of treatment reactions was universal. There was no evidence that the bothersomeness of treatment reactions was associated with patient's willingness to try acupuncture again. The benefit of pain reduction over the course of treatment appeared to outweigh self-rated bothersome reactions to treatment.

As yet, exact mechanisms for the action of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) remain a topic of study. Western science continues to identify acupuncture as a topic of interest, with numerous ongoing clinical studies.

Your G.P. may or may not be open to trying complementary therapies, but in the U.S. and Britain, acupuncture is gaining steadily wider acceptance for medical use, and as drug-free treatment of pain & chronic conditions.