Health and Wellness

Brand new evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture

Brand new evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture

Brand new evidence report on the effectiveness of acupuncture

A recent study by the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd (AACMA) found evidence of the effectiveness of acupuncture for 117 conditions with strong evidence of the effectiveness of 8 conditions including chronic low back pain, tension headaches, and allergic rhinitis.

The study also established that acupuncture was considered to be safe in the hands of a well-trained acupuncture practitioner.

Study findings included:

Conditions with strong evidence supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture

Reviews with consistent statistically significant positive effects and where authors have recommended the intervention. The quality of evidence is rated as moderate or high quality.

  • Allergic rhinitis (perennial and seasonal)
  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (with anti-emetics)
  • Chronic low back pain
  • Headache (tension-type and chronic)
  • Knee osteoarthritis
  • Migraine prophylaxis
  • Postoperative nausea and vomiting
  • Postoperative pain

Conditions with moderate evidence supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture

Reviews reporting all individual RCTs or pooled effects across RCTs as positive, but the reviewers deeming the evidence insufficient to draw firm conclusions. The quality of evidence is rated as moderate or high quality.

  • 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 medication)
  • Dry eye
  • Hypertension (with medication)
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Labour pain
  • Lateral elbow pain
  • Menopausal hot flushes
  • Modulating sensory perception thresholds
  • Neck pain
  • Obesity
  • Perimenopausal and postmenopausal insomnia
  • Plantar heel pain
  • Post-stroke insomnia
  • Post-stroke shoulder pain
  • 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

Conditions with weak positive/unclear evidence supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture

Reviews consisted mostly of weak positive evidence or conflicting evidence between reviews or between authors within a review, with reviewers summarising the evidence as inconclusive. Reviews are of low or very low quality, or there are conflicting levels of evidence within or between reviews.

  • Acupuncture in Emergency Department
  • Acute ankle sprain in adult
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Angina pectoris
  • Assisted conception in ART
  • Asthma in children
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Bladder pain syndrome
  • Cancer-related insomnia
  • Cancer-related psychological symptoms
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Chronic urinary retention due to spinal cord injury
  • Chronic urticaria
  • Dysmenorrhoea
  • Dyspepsia in diabetic gastroparesis (DGP)
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Exercise performance & post-exercise recovery
  • Fatigue in systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Functional dyspepsia
  • Gag reflex in dentistry
  • Glaucoma
  • Heart failure
  • Hot flushes in breast cancer
  • Hyperemesis gravidarum
  • Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy in neonates
  • Induction of labour
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Itch
  • Lumbar spinal stenosis
  • Melasma
  • Meniere's disease/syndrome
  • Menopausal syndrome
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Mumps in children
  • Myelosuppression after chemotherapy
  • Oocyte retrieval pain relief
  • Opiate addiction
  • Opioid detoxification
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Poor sperm quality
  • Postnatal depression
  • Postoperative gastroparesis syndrome (PGS)
  • Postoperative ileus
  • Post-stroke hiccoughs
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Primary ovarian insufficiency
  • Primary Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Psoriasis Vulgaris
  • Rheumatoid arthritis Slowing progression of myopia
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Stress urinary incontinence in adults
  • Sudden sensorineural hearing loss
  • Surgery analgesia
  • Tinnitus
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Vascular cognitive impairment without dementia
  • Vascular dementia
  • Whiplash-associated disorder (WAD)
  • Xerostomia in cancer

The study also looked at the evidence of cost effectiveness and the safety of acupuncture for various conditions.

Download the full Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review

Acupuncture Evidence Project 2017 Acupuncture Evidence Project 2017 (530 KB)

Reference - 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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