HEALTH CONDITIONS

Empirical + Evidence based

What does the current research evidence support in regards to Acupuncture?

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Strong Evidence Supports
  • Allergic rhinitis (perennial & seasonal)
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (with anti-emetics)
  • Chronic low back pain
  • Headache (tension-type and chronic)
Strong Evidence Supports
  •  Knee osteoarthritis
  • Migraine prophylaxis
  • Postoperative nausea & vomiting
  • Postoperative pain
Moderate Evidence Supports
  • Acute low back pain
  • Acute stroke
  • Ambulatory anaesthesia
  • Anxiety
  • Aromatase-inhibitor-induced arthralgia
  • Asthma in adults
  • Back or pelvic pain during pregnancy
  • Cancer pain
  • Cancer-related fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Craniotomy anaesthesia
  • Depression (with antidepressants)
  • Dry eye
Moderate Evidence Supports
  • Hypertension (with medication)
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Labour pain
  • Lateral elbow pain
  • Menopausal hot flushes
  • Modulating sensory perception thresholds
  • Neck pain
  • Obesity
  • Perimenopausal & postmenopausal insomnia
  • Plantar heel pain
  • Post-stroke insomnia
  • Post-stroke shoulder pain
Moderate Evidence Supports
  • Post-stroke spasticity
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Prostatitis pain/chronic pelvic pain syndrome
  • Recovery after colorectal cancer resection
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Schizophrenia (with antipsychotics)
  • Sciatica
  • Shoulder impingement syndrome (early stage with exercise)
  • Shoulder pain
  • Smoking cessation (up to 3 months) – Stroke rehabilitation
  • Temporomandibular pain
The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review (2017)

The Acupuncture Evidence Project: Plain English Summary

The following is a plain English summary of the findings of the Acupuncture Evidence Project (McDonald J, and Janz S, 2017). The full document (81 pages) is available from the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd (AACMA) http://www.acupuncture.org.au. Bottom Line: Our study found evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture for 117 conditions, with stronger evidence for acupuncture’s effectiveness for some conditions than others. Acupuncture is considered safe in the hands of a well-trained practitioner and has been found to be cost-effective for some conditions. The quality and quantity of research into acupuncture’s effectiveness is increasing. Background: Acupuncture originated in China and is now practised throughout the world. Although acupuncture has been practised for thousands of years, evidence of its effectiveness is still controversial. The Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd (AACMA) identified the need for an updated review of the evidence with greater rigour than was possible in the past and commissioned The Acupuncture Evidence Project. We searched the literature with a focus on systematic reviews and meta-analyses (the highest form of evidence available). We sorted the evidence to identify which conditions acupuncture has been found to be most effective for. We also looked for evidence of acupuncture’s safety and cost-effectiveness, and we reported how the evidence for acupuncture’s effectiveness has changed over an eleven-year time-frame. Key results: 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). In addition, research showed that acupuncture was cost effective for 10 conditions, and is safe in the hands of a well-trained practitioner. The level of evidence has increased over the 11-year period of this study for 24 conditions. Placebo-controlled clinical trials consistently underestimate the true effect size of acupuncture (which means that acupuncture is more effective than the type of trials used in this review show), yet they have still demonstrated National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Level I evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture for 117 conditions.

McDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review (Revised Edition). Brisbane: Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd; 2017. http://www.acupuncture.org.au.

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