Research casts light on how acupuncture works

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine is thousands of years old, but in the last two decades Western scientists have begun to study and document how medical acupuncture can positively affect the human body. Here is a sampling of studies on acupuncture and their summaries from that growing body of knowledge.


Wang, R., Integration of Chinese medicine into supportive cancer care: a modern role for an ancient tradition, Cancer Treatment Review, (4): 235-46. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11545543

  • Evidence suggests that the holistic approach of Traditional Chinese Medicine is effective in the supportive care of cancer patients.


Coan, R., Wong, G., et. al., The acupuncture treatment of low back pain: a randomized controlled study, American Journal of Chinese Medicine, (8): 181-189. http://www.worldscinet.com/ajcm/08/0801n02/S0192415X80000141.html

  • Acupuncture can provide significant benefits and relief from pain.

Guo ZL, Lim, Longhurst JC, Nucleus ambiguus cholinergic neurons activated by acupuncture: Relation to enkephalin. Brain Res. 2012 Jan 12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22306033

  • Electro acupuncture can influence cardiovascular function.

Zhao ZQ, Neural mechanism underlying acupuncture analgesia, Prog. Neurobiol. 2008 Aug; 85 (4): 355-75. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18582529

  • Acupuncture needle manipulation changes brain chemistry to induce pain relief.


Loh, L., Nathan, P., et. al., Acupuncture versus medical treatment for migraine and muscle tension headaches, Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, (47): 333-337. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1027772/

  • Acupuncture produces better relief from migraines and muscle tension headaches than standard drug therapies.


Yang, X., Luo, H., and Jia, Y., Clinical observation on needling extra channel points in treating mental depression, Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, (14): 14-18. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8196410

  • Acupuncture is an effective alternative to drugs for treatment of depression.


Fung, KP., et. al., Attenuation of exercise-induced asthma by acupuncture, Lancet, (2): 1419-1422. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2878275

  • Acupuncture provides a natural treatment approach for asthma.


Hyde, E., Acupressure therapy for morning sickness: A controlled clinical trial, Journal of Nurse-Midwifery, (34): 171-178. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1016/0091-2182(89)90077-3/full

  • Acupuncture can reduce psychological and behavioral problems that accompany morning sickness at the same time as it suppresses nausea and vomiting.


Berman, BM, et. al., Effectiveness of acupuncture as adjunctive therapy in osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized, controlled trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, DEC 21, 2004; 141(12)901-910. http://www.annals.org/content/141/12/901.abstract

  • Acupuncture produces significant pain relief and improved function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.


Huang DM, Stefan D, et al., Acupuncture for Infertility: Is it an effective therapy? Chin J Integr Med, 2011 May; 17 (5): 386-95. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21611904

  • Most existing studies suggest a positive effect of acupuncture in infertility treatment.