Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture News and Research



Scalp acupunctureAcupuncture points of the scalp


Acupuncture benefits stroke patients. Pei et al. conducted a randomized controlled clinical trial and concluded that electroacupuncture reduces both impairment and disability, according to the Chinese Stroke Scale. A total of 86 patients participated in the trial. The Brunnstrom-Fugl-Meyer and Barthel Index scores demarcate significant improvements, measured at the three month data point after completion of a four week regimen of acupuncture therapy. Overall motor function and activities of daily living improved significantly and neurological deficits decreased significantly compared with a control group. [1] 


Acupoints of the kneeAcupoints of the knee

Photo: Healthcare Medicine Institute 

Stanford University researchers conclude that acupuncture reduces and delays the need for opioids after total knee replacement surgery. Over 4.7 million people in the United States have had knee replacement surgery. Conventional post-surgical treatment often includes prescription opioids. [1] The drugs often provide pain relief for patients but are ineffective for some. Further, there is a growing concern that the extended use of prescription opioids leads to addiction, further exacerbating epidemic levels of opiate abuse. As a result, finding drug-free interventions that effectively relieve pain and decrease opiate use has become a public health imperative. 


Lower back acupuncture pointsLower back acupuncture points


Controlled studies find acupuncture effective for the treatment of premature ovarian failure (primary ovarian insufficiency). This condition is characterized by the loss of normal ovarian function prior to the age of 40. The average age of onset is 27. Research measures the efficacy of acupuncture in the regulation of hormone levels, reduction of anxiety and other forms of mental stress, and the ability of acupuncture to alleviate menopausal related symptoms. Importantly, the research demonstrates that acupuncture is effective in restoring endogenous estrogen production. 


Acupuncture treatment sessionAcupuncture treatment session


Acupuncture benefits sleep. Researchers conducted a rigorous investigation and determined that acupuncture is safe and effective for the relief of insomnia. [1] Specifically, acupuncture improves sleep efficiency, total sleep time, and alleviates overall insomnia severity. Findings from the same study document that acupuncture alleviates depression and anxiety in patients with insomnia. [2] 


Major acupuncture points on an acupuncture manikin Major points on an acupuncture manikin

Photo: Healthcare Medicine Institute 

University of California School of Medicine researchers have proven that acupuncture lowers blood pressure in subjects with hypertension. [1] The depth and breadth of the research extends across multiple university controlled studies. The investigations also reveal how acupuncture works; the biological mechanisms stimulated by acupuncture are no longer a mystery. 


Acupuncture with lumbar area moxibustion is demonstrated on a patient. Warm needle acupuncture using moxibustion


Controlled clinical studies find acupuncture effective for the treatment of lumbar disc herniations. Manual acupuncture, electroacupuncture, and warm needle acupuncture were among the techniques that produced significant positive patient outcomes. The following studies test the efficacy of acupuncture techniques and specific acupoint prescriptions.

A Guangzhou Huadu District Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital clinical study entitled Clinical observation on treatment of 67 cases with lumbar intervertebral disc herniation with abdomen acupuncture finds acupuncture highly effective (Zeng). Two different acupuncture point prescriptions were compared. The treatment group receiving the abdominal acupuncture protocol achieved a 95.5% total effective rate. The standard body style acupuncture treatment protocol achieved an 86.% total effective rate. [1] 


Neimadian (EX28)Acupuncture point Neimadian (EX28)


Researchers conclude that acupuncture increases the total effective rate of the drug sufentanil citrate for the relief of pain after thoracic surgery. Researchers from the First Affiliated Hospital of Henan University of Science and Technology combined acupuncture with standard drug therapy. Patients receiving both sufentanil citrate injections and acupuncture in a combined treatment protocol had superior patient outcomes compared with patients receiving only sufentanil citrate. The researchers conclude that the addition of acupuncture to a sufentanil treatment regimen reduces the total dosage requirements for the drug and mitigates associated adverse effects. [1] Furthermore, acupuncture increases the effective rate of sufentanil citrate for postoperative pain relief. Let’s take a look at the results. 


Acupuncture point Kunlun (BL60) illustration. Photograph: HealthCMi, Adobe Images


Researchers investigated the effects of acupuncture combined with joint mobilization on patients with ankle dysfunction. The researchers conclude that acupuncture combined with joint mobilization produces a 59.65% total effective rate. Ankle dysfunction often occurs as a result of acute ankle sprains, ankle fractures, or due to complications following ankle surgery. Ankle sprains cause damage to the medial or lateral ligaments, which leads to pain and swelling. Some patients are unable to fully recover, affecting their ankle motor functions and increasing the tendency for another sprain. Complications due to surgery and untreated ankles may lead to valgus or an unsteady gait; severe consequences include joint deformity or traumatic arthritis. Also, some patients may experience ankle pain, movement dysfunction, or ankylosis (Zhou et al.). 

Over half of all women experience primary dysmenorrhea, and many consider their menstrual pain inevitable. However, the prevalence of pain implies neither normalcy nor necessity. In the occident, acupuncture has recently gained popularity for women's reproductive health conditions, especially infertility. Nevertheless, believing that pain an inevitable consequence of being born a woman, many do not seek acupuncture to treat their dysmenorrhea; in some cases, it is only after seeking out acupuncture for other conditions that women are educated in its potential to treat their menstrual pain. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), dysmenorrhea (including menstrual pain and other pre-menstrual symptoms) is considered a disorder just as worthy of treatment as any disease. Researchers at The National Institute of Complementary Medicine at Western Sydney University in Australia conducted a study to compare the efficacy of manual acupuncture and electro-acupuncture, at two timing intervals, for the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea. The researchers found that, in all cases, acupuncture leads to a significant reduction in the intensity and duration of menstrual pain after three months of treatment, and the results were sustained one year after trial entry. [1] This study, along with others in the same vein, will hopefully be encouraging for those women who suffer each month from dysmenorrhea.


Menstrual Cycle Chart


Primary dysmenorrhea is menstrual pain that has no identified organic cause; women with endometriosis, or other biomedically defined uterine conditions, may have menstrual pain, but that pain is considered secondary dysmenorrhea since the etiology is known. Primary dysmenorrhea is most common in young women under the age of 25. The characteristic symptoms are cramps — colicky spasms of pain in the suprapubic area — occurring within 8–72 hours of menstruation, and the pain usually peaks with the increase in menstrual flow during the first few days of a woman's menstrual cycle. "In addition to painful cramps, many women with primary dysmenorrhea experience other menstrual-related symptoms, including back and thigh pain, headaches, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting." [2] Iacovides et al. note that "the prevalence of primary dysmenorrhea is highly underestimated, yet difficult to determine, because few affected women seek medical treatment, despite the substantial distress experienced, as many consider the pain to be a normal part of the menstrual cycle rather than a disorder…. Prevalence estimates vary between 45 and 95% of menstruating women, with very severe primary dysmenorrhea estimated to affect 10–25% of women of reproductive age. As such, dysmenorrhea appears to be the most common gynecological disorder in women irrespective of nationality and age. [3] 


Acupuncture points of the face, including ST7.Acupuncture points on the facePhotograph: © Healthcare Medicine Institute

Acupuncture relieves herpangina-related symptoms, speeds fever recovery time, accelerates the healing of herpangina sores, and reduces the recurrence of herpangina-induced fever. Herpangina is a viral pediatric illness that causes ulcers on the roof of the mouth and throat. There may also be comorbid fever, sore throat, headache, or neck pain. 



 Photograph: Adobe Stock

Researchers find acupuncture more effective than intravenous sufentanil citrate for the relief of post-C-section pain. Nanyang Wolong District Maternity and Child Health Care Hospital researchers investigated the effects of electroacupuncture (EA) on patients with post-C-section pain in a randomized controlled study. The control group received sufentanil citrate (a potent synthetic opioid analgesic). Sufentanil is stronger than fentanyl and 500 times more potent than morphine. The acupuncture treatment group achieved a total effective rate of 86.7%. The drug control group achieved a 60.0% total effective rate. The total effective rate was based upon a combination of symptomatic relief scores and endogenous biochemical analgesic adaptation to post-surgical recovery. 


Acupuncture applied to the shoulder.Acupuncture applied to the rotator cuff region.


Acupuncture is an effective treatment modality for breast cancer related lymphedema (BCRL). Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine researchers investigated the effects of acupuncture on BCRL patients in a randomized controlled clinical trial. The study finds that acupuncture effectively reduces upper arm circumference, improves shoulder range of motion, and patients self-reported overall quality of life improvements. 


Acupuncture benefits stroke patients. Patient receives an acupuncture treatment.


Acupuncture is more effective than the antidepressant paroxetine for the treatment of depression following a stroke. Hunan University of Traditional Chinese Medicine researchers investigated the effects of acupuncture on patients with post-stroke depression in a randomized controlled clinical trial. The control group received paroxetine, an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). The acupuncture treatment group achieved a total effective rate of 86.7%. The drug control group achieved a 66.7% total effective rate. 


Scalp and face acupunctureScalp and facial acupuncture treatment


Researchers from the First People's Hospital of Lanzhou find scalp and body style acupuncture effective for the treatment of ophthalmoplegia (eye muscle paralysis). The three arm study compared standalone supplement therapy, standalone acupuncture therapy, and a combination of acupuncture plus supplements in a comprehensive treatment protocol. The greatest positive patient outcome rate was recorded in the acupuncture plus supplements group (95.16%). The least effective therapy of the three approaches to care was the use of standalone supplement therapy (58.06%). 


GB12 and Yintang acupuncture pointsRelaxation during an acupuncture treatment


Shenzhen Hospital of Chinese Medicine researchers determined that acupuncture is safe and effective for the alleviation of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Subjective documentation of symptomatic improvements and objective measurements (including IgA and IgG levels) record a 90% total effective rate and a 50% total recovery rate. The researchers conclude, “Acupuncture at the eight influential points has a definite therapeutic effect on CFS and improves the immune system function in CFS patients.” 

Western Sydney University researchers find acupuncture effective for the alleviation of menstrual pain. The investigation team, led by chief researcher Dr. Armor, finds acupuncture effective for reducing both pain intensity levels and the duration of menstrual cramping and pain. In addition, the researchers document that acupuncture reduces secondary symptoms including back pain, headaches, and nausea. Perhaps more importantly, the beneficial clinical effects were sustained for up to one year after completion of acupuncture treatments.


Acupuncture Model 


The Australian research team investigated the effects of manual acupuncture and electroacupuncture on patients with chronic dysmenorrhea (menstrual related cramping and pain). All participants received a grand total of 12 acupuncture treatments. Manual acupuncture group participants received tonification (bu) or sedation (xie) methods applied to the acupuncture needles during the 20–30 minute acupuncture sessions. For electroacupuncture participants, “two distal points were selected by the practitioner and a 2Hz/100Hz square wave pulse of 200ms duration was applied between each point for 20 minutes using an ITO ES-160 electroacupuncture machine.” 

Acupuncture is found effective for the treatment of urinary incontinence. Several controlled investigations find acupuncture safe and effective for reducing the amount of urine leakage and frequency of uncontrolled urine leakage. The investigations reveal that acupuncture outperforms medications and enhances the effectiveness of Kegel exercises and herbal medicines.


Acupoints used for urinary incontinence.


Urinary incontinence occurs when urine unintentionally leaks from the urethra. Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is a type of urinary incontinence that occurs during physical activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or lifting. It is the most common type of urinary incontinence affecting women. Currently, conventional treatment includes the implementation of pelvic exercises for mild symptoms, which help to strengthen pelvic muscles and sphincter muscles at the neck of the bladder. Pharmceutical medications are also used as a treatment modality. 

At the Healthcare Medicine Institute, we have received the most acupuncture information requests about the following research publications in the last several months. Below are excerpts from the articles that feature important acupuncture research and clinical findings. Enjoy the top 7 acupuncture aricles of the spring and summer on the following topics:

  • Acupuncture For Fertility
  • Acupuncture and the American College of Physicians
  • Nerve Repair and Acupuncture
  • Antiinflammatory Acupuncture
  • Acupuncture Reduces Pain Levels
  • MRI and Acupuncture
  • Biochemical Changes and Acupuncture


Microglial cells in our top 7 acupuncture articles.


Acupuncture For Fertility

In our first article of the top 7, researchers find acupuncture combined with clomiphene more effective than clomiphene plus supplementary hormonal pharmaceuticals for the treatment of infertility. The combination of acupuncture plus clomiphene produces significantly higher pregnancy rates for women with anovulatory infertility than clomiphene plus estradiol cypionate and dydrogesterone. The data was published in the report entitled Effects of Acupuncture on the Endometrium in Anovulatory Cases Treated by Clomiphene: A Clinical Observation

Acupuncture outperforms routine drug therapy for the treatment of pain due to indigestion. In a randomized clinical trial, acupuncture produced superior patient outcomes over patients using domperidone for the treatment of functional dyspepsia (non-ulcer stomach pain, often with distention, nausea, or belching). In addition, patients receiving acupuncture had a greater improvement in sleep duration and quality over functional dyspepsia patients taking drug therapy.


ST25 and local acupuncture points are used for indigestion.

Domperidone is a dopamine antagonist used to treat gastrointestinal disorders, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), gastroparesis, nausea, and vomiting. As a gastroprokinetic agent, domperidone supports food transit by stimulating peristalsis. The results of the study indicate that acupuncture has a significantly more effective action on the promotion of digestion than domperidone.

Acupuncture plus herbal medicine outperforms omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid) for the treatment of acid reflux. Often referred to as gastroesophageal reflux disease, GERD, or reflux esophagitis, acid reflux occurs when stomach acid reverses direction and enters the esophagus, causing inflammation, heartburn (burning pain), regurgitation of acid into the throat or mouth, nausea, or bloating. Acupuncture plus herbs was more effective than drug therapy in both the short and long-term. In addition, acupuncture plus herbal medicine had a lower relapse rate. 

Acid reflux acupuncture treatment.

In research conducted at the Hebei Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture plus herbs produced an 89.7% total effective rate, using only herbal medicine produced an 82.1% total effective rate, and drug therapy using omeprazole (a proton pump inhibitor) produced an 82.8% total effective rate. The results were measured with gastroscopy (esophagogastroduodenoscopy) and Reflux Disease Questionnaire (RDQ) scoring at the completion of all medical treatments. 

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