Acupuncture: An Overview of Scientific EvidenceBY MEL HOPPER KOPPELMAN, DAC, MSC, MSC


Research into acupuncture as a medical treatment has grown exponenti ally in the past 20 years, increasing at twice the rate of research into conventional biomedicine. Over this period, there have been over 13,000 studies conducted in 60 countries, including hundreds of meta-analyses summarizing the results of thousands of human and animal studies. A wide-variety of clinical areas have been studied, including pain, cancer, pregnancy, stroke, mood disorders, sleep disorders and inflammation, to name a few.


With nearly 1,000 systematic reviews of acupuncture, getting a sense of what the evidence shows can be a challenge. Fortunately, the entire literature base was summarized in 2010 by the Australian Department of Veteran Aairs. This review was updated in 2014 by the US Department of Veteran Affairs and then again in 2017 by John McDonald and Stephen Janz, the authors of the Acupuncture Evidence Project.

“It is no longer possible to say that the effectiveness of acupuncture can be attributed to the placebo effect or that it is useful only for musculoskeletal pain.”


The Acupuncture Evidence Project reviewed the eectiveness of acupuncture for 122 treatments over 14 clinical areas. They found some evidence of eect for 117 conditions. “Our study found evidence for the eectiveness of acupuncture for 117 conditions, with stronger evidence for acupuncture’s eectiveness for some conditions than others. Acupuncture is considered safe in the hands of a well-trained practitioner and has been found to be cost-eective for some conditions. The quality and quantity of research into acupuncture’s eectiveness is increasing.” Acupuncture Evidence Project, p55