Acupuncture
The practice of acupuncture originated in China 5,000 years ago. Today it is widely used throughout the world and is one of the main pillars of...

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Evidence

DISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Anxiety: Several studies suggest that acupuncture may help improve symptoms of anxiety, especially before surgical or diagnostic procedures.
Grade: B

Back pain (chronic): Good evidence supports the use of acupuncture in long-lasting back pain. Further research is needed before a strong recommendation can be made.
Grade: B

Dental procedures (pain): Results of acupuncture in postoperative dental pain have been promising and supported by numerous studies.
Grade: B

Depression: Good evidence suggests that acupuncture may help treat symptoms of depression, especially in menopausal or stroke patients. Study results are mixed. More studies are needed before a strong recommendation can be made.
Grade: B

Endoscopy procedure pain: There is good evidence from several studies supporting the use of acupuncture to reduce pain and discomfort during endoscopy or gastroscopy.
Grade: B

Fibromyalgia: There is evidence from several studies suggesting that acupuncture may help with pain relief in fibromyalgia. Some research suggests it may also improve symptoms of fatigue and anxiety.
Grade: B

Nausea and vomiting (chemotherapy induced): Evidence from several small studies supports the use of acupuncture at a specific point on the wrist (P6) to help chemotherapy patients reduce nausea and vomiting. Electroacupuncture has also been used in combination with anti-nausea medications.
Grade: B

Nausea and vomiting (postoperative in adults): Evidence supports the use of acupuncture at the wrist P6 point for the relief of post-operative nausea and vomiting in adults. Some research has shown that acupuncture is equally as effective as anti-nausea drugs.
Grade: B

Neck pain: Good evidence suggests that acupuncture may improve symptoms of neck pain. More research is needed before a strong recommendation can be made.
Grade: B

Osteoarthritis (OA): There has been substantial research on the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of OA. Most studies focus on knee, cervical, and hip OA symptoms. In recent years, the evidence has improved and is now considered strong enough to recommend trying acupuncture in OA of the knee, which is one of the most common forms of this condition.
Grade: B

Post-operative pain: Several studies have tested the effects of acupuncture on pain after surgery. A clear majority of these studies have reported beneficial effects. Additional studies are needed before a strong recommendation can be made.
Grade: B

Pregnancy (reducing back strain): Early evidence suggests that acupuncture may substantially reduce low back pain in pregnancy. More studies are needed to confirm these results.
Grade: B

Tennis elbow: Evidence suggests that there is a reduction of pain and an improvement of function in the afflicted elbow.
Grade: B

Abdominal pain: Acupuncture may improve abdominal symptoms, such as nausea, pain, and bloating, as well as discomfort from electrogastrogram procedures. More research is needed to confirm these early findings.
Grade: C

Alcohol dependence: The evidence on acupuncture in alcoholism is mixed. More studies are needed to evaluate the use of acupuncture in this application.
Grade: C

Angina pectoris (chest pain): Some research has suggested that acupuncture might help reduce distress and symptoms of angina, but this has not been consistently shown in other studies.
Grade: C

Ankylosing spondylitis: Based on limited research, acupuncture combined with motortherapy may help treat ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammatory disease of the spine and nearby joints.
Grade: C

Annexitis: There is not enough evidence to recommend for or against the use of acupuncture in annexitis patients.
Grade: C

Arthritis (periarthritis of the shoulder): Early study shows promising results. Further research is needed before a recommendation can be made.
Grade: C

Asthma: Some research suggests that acupuncture may help prevent exercise-induced asthma. It may also reduce the perceived level of breathlessness associated with asthma or emphysema and allow patients to take lower doses of asthma medications. However, reviewers agree that the available studies are small, poorly designed, and insufficient for making recommendations. A few studies have found no support for the use of acupuncture for asthma.
Grade: C

Autism: Early research suggests that a combination of electroacupuncture and behavioral or educational therapy may help improve symptoms of autism. However, acupuncture did not improve intelligence. More research is needed to confirm these early findings.
Grade: C

Bell's palsy: Evidence is inconsistent regarding the effects of acupuncture in back pain. Further research is needed before a recommendation can be made.
Grade: C

Blood vessel disorders (aortitis): Researchers have tested the effects of acupuncture-moxibustion onmultiple aortitis, a condition that causes the main blood vessel (called the aorta) to swell. Although acupuncture-moxibustion was shown to be more effective than standard medications, more research with acupuncture alone is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.
Grade: C

Breast cancer (vasomotor symptoms): Early research suggests that acupuncture or electroacupuncture may help treat vasomotor symptoms, such as hot flashes, in breast cancer patients. More study is needed before a recommendation can be made.
Grade: C

Breast milk stimulant: Early research suggests that acupuncture may improve breast milk flow in women who do not produce enough milk after delivery. More research is needed in this area.
Grade: C

Burn pain: There is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against the use of acupuncture in pain associated with burns.
Grade: C

Cancer pain: There has been limited research on acupuncture for cancer pain, and the research that was done was shown to have mixed results. More studies are needed to determine potential benefits.
Grade: C

Cardiovascular conditions: Acupuncture has been found to be superior to medication (shenmai injection) for low pulse pressure syndrome. More studies are needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
Grade: C

Carpal tunnel syndrome: Currently, there is insufficient evidence available to recommend for or against the use of acupuncture in carpal tunnel syndrome.
Grade: C

Cerebral palsy: There is not enough evidence available from well-designed studies to recommend either for or against the use of acupuncture in cerebral palsy. Many studies combined acupuncture with rehabilitation therapies, such as motor therapy.
Grade: C

Cervical spondylosis: Both needle-knife therapy and acupuncture have been used to treat cervical spondylosis, with one study showing needle knife therapy as a superior treatment. However, higher-quality studies are needed before recommendations can be made.
Grade: C

Chemotherapy-induced leukopenia: It is unclear if acupuncture can help increase white blood cells (called leukocytes) in cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy. Well-designed research is needed in this area.
Grade: C

Chronic pain: Higher-quality studies suggest potential benefit for musculoskeletal pain, but overall, studies have been poorly designed making recommendations difficult.
Grade: C

Cognitive performance: There is not enough available evidence to recommend either for or against the use of acupuncture in nervous system disorders that affect brain functioning or communication.
Grade: C

Colic (renal and urethral): Based on limited research, eye acupuncture may help treat kidney and urethral colic. More research is needed in this area.
Grade: C

Colitis: Early study has used acupuncture for acute and chronic colitis. More study is needed before a recommendation can be made.
Grade: C

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease): Overall there is insufficient evidence on which to base recommendations for acupuncture to treat breathlessness in COPD.
Grade: C

Dementia: There is not enough evidence to recommend the use of acupuncture in the treatment of vascular dementia.
Grade: C

Diabetes: There is a lack of well-designed studies to determine the effect of acupuncture in this condition.
Grade: C

Diabetic nephropathy: Early research suggests that acupuncture may improve lipid metabolism and protect kidney function among patients with early metaphase diabetes. More research is needed in this area.
Grade: C

Diabetic retinopathy: There is promising research that acupuncture may be an effective therapy for diabetic retinopathy, an eye disease that may lead to vision loss. However, additional studies are needed before a recommendation can be made.
Grade: C

Diagnostic procedure (pneumoencephalography side effects): Acupuncture therapy has been suggested as a possible treatment for the side effects of pneumoencephalography. More research is needed in this area.
Grade: C

Drug addiction: More studies are needed before a recommendation can be made for or against the use of acupuncture in cocaine/opiate addiction.
Grade: C

Dry mouth (xerostomia): There is some limited evidence suggesting that acupuncture may stimulate salivary flow in some patients with xerostomia (dry mouth). More studies of better design are needed to evaluate this use.
Grade: C

Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation): It is unclear if acupuncture can improve symptoms of painful menstruation. Study results are mixed. Additional research is needed before a conclusion can be made.
Grade: C

Dyspepsia (functional): Currently, there is not enough data to recommend for or against the use of acupuncture in functional dyspepsia.
Grade: C

Endometriosis: Limited evidence suggests that acupuncture may have a positive effect on endometriosis, a condition in which uterine tissue grows outside of the uterus. Until more research is performed, the effectiveness of this therapy remains unknown.
Grade: C

Enuresis (bedwetting): The available studies do not offer evidence strong enough to make a strong recommendation.
Grade: C

Erectile dysfunction: There is insufficient available evidence to recommend for or against acupuncture in the treatment of erectile dysfunction.
Grade: C

Exercise performance: It is unclear if acupuncture can improve muscular performance, muscle strength, or heart rate recovery after exercise. Additional research is needed to determine if acupuncture is an effective therapy for exercise performance.
Grade: C

Eye disorders (ophthalmoplegia): Early evidence has shown that eye-needling combined with medication may be more effective than medication alone in the treatment of ophthalmoplegia, a condition that causes paralysis of the motor nerves of the eye.
Grade: C

Facial paralysis: Acupuncture has been studied as a possible therapy for facial paralysis. Additional studies are needed before recommendations can be made.
Grade: C

Fasciitis (back muscles): Fasciitis is inflammation of the layer of connective tissue that covers, separates, and supports muscles. Acupuncture has been studied in fasciitis of back muscles. More studies are needed to make any firm conclusions.
Grade: C

Fever: Early research suggests that acupuncture may help reduce a high fever associated with the common cold. More research is needed to confirm these early findings.
Grade: C

Gag reflex abnormalities: Acupuncture has been studied in patients who have an abnormal gag reflex during dental procedures. Although early findings suggest that acupuncture may help control the gag reflex in such patients, more research is needed in this area.
Grade: C

Gastric disorders (gastroparesis): Early evidence suggests that acupuncture may help treat gastroparesis, which refers to nerve or muscle damage in the stomach that causes slow digestion and emptying, vomiting, nausea, and bloating. More research is needed in this area.
Grade: C

Headache (migraine, myogenic, tension, unspecified): Acupuncture may offer promise for various types of headaches, but higher quality studies are needed before recommendations can be made.
Grade: C

Hearing loss: Early evidence suggests that deep needling may be more effective in treating sudden deafness than shallow needling. Better-designed trials are needed to reach a firm conclusion.
Grade: C

Heart disease: Evidence is inconclusive for or against the use of acupuncture in heart disease.
Grade: C

Hemiplegia: Hemiplegia is a condition of full or partial paralysis of one side of the body due to disease, trauma, or stroke. Various types of acupuncture, such as scalp acupuncture and traditional acupuncture, have been used to treat hemiplegia. Although early research is promising, more studies are needed before a recommendation can be made.
Grade: C

Hemorrhage (cerebral, vocal cords): Limited evidence indicates that acupuncture may benefit patients with cerebral hemorrhage or submucosal hemorrhage of the vocal cords. Study of acupuncture's effects alone vs. in combination with other therapies may help make a firm conclusion.
Grade: C

Herpes zoster: Based on early research, acupuncture therapy may help treat herpes zoster and improve symptoms of pain. However, more high-quality studies are needed before a conclusion can be made.
Grade: C

High blood pressure: There is insufficient evidence available on which to base any recommendation for or against the use of acupuncture in high blood pressure.
Grade: C

Hormone regulation: It is unclear if acupuncture has beneficial effects on hormone levels in patients with Sjogren's syndrome or partial androgen deficiency of aging (PADAM). More research is needed in this area.
Grade: C

Infertility: More studies are needed to determine the benefits of acupuncture on infertility.
Grade: C

Insomnia: Traditional Chinese medicine commonly uses acupuncture to treat insomnia. A review of the available studies found reports of benefit, but major weaknesses in the design of the research makes the evidence insufficient to recommend for or against acupuncture for insomnia.
Grade: C

Irregular heartbeat: Acupuncture has been studied as a possible treatment for irregular heartbeat. Additional research is needed in this area before a conclusion can be made.
Grade: C

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Although limited evidence suggests benefit may be possible, more studies are needed in order to make recommendations for or against acupuncture in IBS.
Grade: C

Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eyes): There is not enough evidence on which to base recommendations for keratoconjunctivitis sicca at this time.
Grade: C

Kidney disorders: There has been limited research on acupuncture for kidney disorders, such as gouty renal damage or kidney hypertension of long-lasting (chronic) kidney disease. There is currently not enough available evidence to recommend for or against the use of acupuncture in these conditions.
Grade: C

Knee pain: Early research suggests that acupuncture may help treat long-lasting knee pain. However, more studies are needed to confirm these findings.
Grade: C

Mastitis (breast pain and inflammation): Acupuncture has been studied as a treatment for mastitis in breastfeeding women. Researchers have found that acupuncture may have beneficial effects when combined with standard treatment. More research is needed in this area.
Grade: C

Menopausal symptoms: There has been limited research on acupuncture for menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and menopause-related high blood pressure. However, because results are mixed, more studies are needed before a conclusion can be made.
Grade: C

Musculoskeletal problems: There is evidence from several studies suggesting that laser acupuncture therapy may be beneficial for musculoskeletal conditions. However, due to weaknesses in study methods, as well as the wide variety of conditions in this category, it is difficult to make specific recommendations.
Grade: C

Myofascial pain: Early research suggests that acupuncture may help reduce myofascial pain. However, additional studies are needed to confirm these findings.
Grade: C

Nausea and vomiting (postoperative in children): Several attempts have been made to document the benefits of stimulation of the P6 wrist point to reduce post-operative nausea and vomiting. Both acupuncture and acupressure wristbands have been tried. Study results are mixed. More trials are needed to make any firm conclusion regarding the use of acupuncture in adults and children.
Grade: C

Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (hyperemesis gravidarum): It is unclear if acupuncture can help treat nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. Additional studies are needed in this area.
Grade: C

Nerve damage: It is unclear if acupuncture can help treat nerve damage. More research is needed in this area.
Grade: C

Neurasthenia: Acupuncture has been studied as a possible treatment for neurasthenia or physical weakness caused by exhaustion of the nervous system. However, more research is needed to determine if this is an effective treatment.
Grade: C

Neurogenic bladder dysfunction: Acupuncture plus Methycobal® has been studied as a possible treatment for diabetic neurogenic bladder. This condition occurs when a problem with the nervous system prevents people from properly controlling their bladders. More research is needed to determine if acupuncture is effective for this disorder.
Grade: C

Pain (acute): Early evidence suggests that acupuncture may help treat acute low back pain. Other research suggests that auricular acupuncture may reduce acute pain in the short-term (but not the long-term) when combined with standard emergency medical care. Additional studies are needed before a firm conclusion can be made.
Grade: C

Pain (craniofacial): There is insufficient evidence available on which to base recommendations for or against acupuncture in craniofacial pain.
Grade: C

Pain relief (during kidney stone removal): Acupuncture has been tested as a possible pain reliever during the removal of kidney stones. Early research suggests no benefits, but more studies are needed before a conclusion can be made.
Grade: C

Parkinson's disease: There is not sufficient evidence available on which to base recommendations for or against acupuncture in Parkinson's disease.
Grade: C

Pelvic pain in pregnancy: Acupuncture stimulation may lower levels of pelvic pain intensity in pregnant women. However, more studies are needed to determine the magnitude of benefit, if any, over other methods.
Grade: C

Peptic ulcers: Based on early study results, acupuncture may have a beneficial effect on peptic ulcers. However, a conclusion cannot be made until more studies are performed.
Grade: C

Peripheral neuropathy: Wrist-ankle acupuncture has been studied for the treatment of peripheral neuropathy. However, there is not enough evidence on which to base recommendations for the use of acupuncture in peripheral nerve injury.
Grade: C

Polycystic ovary syndrome: Further research is needed before a recommendation can be made for or against the use of acupuncture in HIV-associated peripheral neuropathy.
Grade: C

Post-herpetic neuralgia: Overall, the available evidence suggests no benefit of acupuncture over placebo in post-herpetic neuralgia. More studies are needed to draw a firm conclusion.
Grade: C

Post-operative pain (hysterectomy): Hand acupuncture has been compared with moxibustion in relieving pain in women who have undergone hysterectomies. However, it is not possible to reach a firm conclusion at this time.
Grade: C

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): It is unclear if acupuncture is beneficial for patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Early study results are promising, but larger studies are needed in this area.
Grade: C

Pregnancy and labor: Acupuncture has been reported to encourage uterine contractions during labor and to reduce the pain of labor. However, results of formal studies are mixed, and the research designs have been weak. More studies are needed to clarify the potential of acupuncture in labor.
Grade: C

Pregnancy support: Moxibustion has been used historically in acupuncture to correct cephalic version (breech presentation) by turning the fetus' headin utero. Further studies are needed to determine its role in the correction of breech presentation.
Grade: C

Prostatitis (prostate inflammation): While limited evidence suggests benefit may be possible, there is insufficient available evidence to recommend either for or against acupuncture in prostatitis.
Grade: C

Pruritus (itchy skin): While limited evidence suggests benefit may be possible, there is insufficient available evidence to recommend either for or against acupuncture in uremic cutaneous pruritus.
Grade: C

Raynaud's disease: There is insufficient evidence on which to base recommendations for the use of acupuncture in Raynaud's syndrome at this time.
Grade: C

Rectal prolapse: While limited evidence suggests benefit may be possible, there is insufficient available evidence to recommend either for or against acupuncture in prolapsed rectums.
Grade: C

Rheumatoid arthritis: Some studies of weak design have reported that acupuncture may relieve pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis. However, a well-designed trial was unable to confirm this. More evidence is needed to clarify if or when acupuncture is beneficial in RA.
Grade: C

Rhinitis: There is insufficient available evidence on which to base recommendations for acupuncture in patients with rhinitis.
Grade: C

Sedative: Based on early research, it is unclear whether acupuncture has sedative effects. Additional studies are needed in this area.
Grade: C

Shoulder pain: The available research on acupuncture for shoulder pain of varying causes shows mixed results.
Grade: C

Sinusitis (chronic): More studies are needed of stronger design to determine whether or not acupuncture offers benefit in sinusitis.
Grade: C

Skin disorders: There is evidence from several studies suggesting that laser acupuncture therapy may be beneficial for skin conditions. However, due to weaknesses in study methods, as well as the wide variety of conditions in this category, it is difficult to make specific recommendations.
Grade: C

Sleep apnea: Some evidence suggests that acupuncture may help improve breathing in patients with moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Additional studies are needed to confirm these early findings.
Grade: C

Speech disorders (aphasia): Scalp acupuncture combined with rehabilitation training may help improve symptoms of aphasia, a condition that occurs when a person has difficulty understanding and/or producing spoken and written language. More research is needed in this area.
Grade: C

Spinal cord injury: Preliminary evidence suggests that acupuncture may help spinal injury patients regain some bladder control, although the severity of the injury affects outcomes. More studies are needed before definitive recommendations can be made.
Grade: C

Stroke recovery: Several studies have been conducted in stroke rehabilitation. More studies are needed to determine what can be expected in the use of acupuncture with regard to this application.
Grade: C

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders: The available evidence suggests acupuncture may be comparable to other forms of conservative treatments. However, the studies that have been performed have major weaknesses that call into question the meaning of the findings. More studies of better design are needed for definitive recommendations.
Grade: C

Tourette's syndrome: Based on early evidence, acupuncture may be an effective therapy for Tourette's syndrome. Further research is needed to confirm these results.
Grade: C

Trigeminal neuralgia (primary): Currently, there is insufficient available evidence to recommend either for or against acupuncture in primary trigeminal neuralgia.
Grade: C

Urinary tract infection: Early study in women suggests a reduced recurrence over six months and reduced residual urine (urine retained in the bladder after voiding). Better-designed studies are needed to determine recommendations for this use.
Grade: C

Urticaria (hives): Acupuncture plus point-injection has been found beneficial for obstinate urticaria (rash), although more research is needed to confirm these findings.
Grade: C

Uterus inflammation: Early study has suggested possible benefit in uterine inflammation. However, there is a lack of well-designed studies on which to base recommendations for or against acupuncture.
Grade: C

Vertigo (cervical): Both ginger moxibustion and acupuncture have been studied for cervical vertigo, although few conclusions can be drawn at this time.
Grade: C

Vision problems: Acupuncture has been combined with other therapies, such as massage, manual therapy, and Chinese medicine, to treat vision problems, including nearsightedness, optic atrophy, and visual recovery. Additional studies with acupuncture alone are needed before any conclusions can be made.
Grade: C

Vulvodynia: Subjective observations in one small study suggest a possible role of acupuncture in the treatment of vulvodynia symptoms (chronic burning or stinging sensation of the vulva in the vagina). However, there is currently insufficient evidence on which to base recommendations.
Grade: C

Weight loss: Evidence is inconsistent on whether acupuncture might contribute to weight loss. Some studies show modest benefit but others show none. Currently, there is not enough available evidence to recommend either for or against acupuncture in weight loss.
Grade: C

Smoking cessation: Numerous studies of acupuncture for smoking cessation have been conducted, and the quality of studies has varied widely. Results have been inconsistent. Several critical reviews of the research have concluded that the evidence does not support acupuncture as a reliable or effective method for smoking cessation. There may, however, be some benefit in reducing side effects of withdrawal such as irritation, cigarette craving, and headache.
Grade: D

Tinnitus: Small trials have been conducted and found no benefits over placebo for the treatment of chronic unilateral or bilateral tinnitus. However, non-controlled case series have found possible benefit. Larger studies are needed before a strong recommendation can be made.
Grade: D

Whiplash (adjunct): Early study does not show that laser acupuncture is any more effective than sham laser acupuncture when used in combination with drugs and other mobilization therapies. More study is needed in this area.
Grade: D

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