Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture News and Research


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. 

Needles applied to the lumbar region for disc herniations relieve back pain. Acupuncture needles applied to the lower back


Acupuncture combined with herbal medicine is effective for the treatment of lumbar disc herniations. Beijing Timber Factory Worker’s Hospital researchers investigated the effects of warm needle acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine on patients with lumbar disc herniations. The combined therapy produced a 69.2% total effective rate. Using warm needle acupuncture as a standalone therapy absent the use of herbal medicine produced a 50.7% total effective rate. 

Acupuncture restores normal breast milk production to lactating mothers with low milk secretion levels. Research conducted at the Hanzhong Shanxi Hospital demonstrates that the application of a specific set of acupuncture points significantly boosts lactation quantities. In a controlled investigation of 116 women with deficient secretion of milk (hypogalactia, hypogalactorrhea), acupuncture successfully increased breast milk secretion from an average of 49.63 ml to 115.21 ml. In addition, lactating mothers receiving acupuncture had a concomitant improvement in prolactin (a hormone that stimulates milk production) levels.


A mother and her baby are depicted in this image. Acupuncture assists nursing mothers 

Postpartum hypogalactia is often caused by weakness after delivery. Other causes include congenital dysplasia, dietary issues, and stress. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles, childbirth brings great changes to the reproductive organs and the entire body. The functions of the meridians and viscera are easily maladjusted during the recuperative period. In order to ensure sufficient breast milk production, which is vital to the baby’s healthy growth and the mother, it is important to provide a timely differential diagnosis and treatment once postpartum hypogalactia is discovered. According to TCM principles, postpartum hypogalactia is primarily caused by deficiency of qi and blood or stagnation of liver qi. Deficiency of qi and blood results in insufficient milk production and liver qi stagnation results in coagulation or obstruction of breast milk. 

Acupuncture outperforms drug therapy for the treatment of insomnia. Hangzhou Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine researchers compared the efficaciousness of auricular acupuncture with estazolam drug therapy for the treatment of insomnia in senior citizens. Estazolam achieved an 82.9% total effective rate and auricular acupuncture achieved a 91.4% total effective rate. Acupuncture outperformed drug therapy for the improvement of sleep quality, duration, and daytime functioning. Results were determined by analysis of Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) scores.


Yintang and other sleep acupoints on a human model


Auricular acupuncture involves the application of filiform needles (1.5 mm length) to specific acupoints located on the outer surface of the ear. Estazolam is a benzodiazepine, a psychoactive drug in the same class as chlordiazepoxide (Librium) and diazepam (Valium). The study involved the selection of 70 patients at the acupuncture department of Hangzhou Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine. All patients were diagnosed with insomnia between March 2015 and March 2016. They were randomly divided into an acupuncture treatment group and a drug control group, with 35 patients in each group. 

Researchers find acupuncture effective and safe for the treatment of intractable hiccups (IH). In a controlled clinical trial, a total of 60 patients were randomly divided into a treatment group and a control group. The treatment group received acupuncture therapy and the control group received antitussive, anesthetic, and glucocorticoid medications. The total effective rate of the acupuncture treatment group was 93.3%. The total effective rate for the drug control group was 73.3%.


Moxa and acupuncture on the abdomen on a female model 


The total effective rate reflects all patients achieving significant positive patient outcomes. Perhaps more importantly, acupuncture produced a significantly higher complete recovery rate. Acupuncture produced a 73.33% recovery rate and drugs produced a 43.33% recovery rate. The ineffective rate for acupuncture was 6.67% and drug therapy produced a 26.67% ineffective rate. 

Researchers find acupuncture more effective than hormone drug therapy for the treatment of endometriosis. Acupuncture relieves menstrual pain due to endometriosis, reduces the size of pelvic masses, lowers CA125 levels, and reduces the recurrence rate of endometriosis. CA125 a is biomarker for several types of cancer and benign conditions including endometriosis and menstrual disorders.


Common acupoints used for endometriosis treatment


Researchers at Tongji University hospital compared acupuncture with standard drug therapy. Patients receiving acupuncture achieved a 92.0% total effective rate. Patients receiving mifepristone achieved a 52.0% total effective rate. Mifepristone, also known by its trademarked name RU-486, is a synthetic steroid that inhibits progesterone action and is used for the treatment endometriosis and also for inducing abortions. Notably, low doses of “mifepristone inhibits endometrial proliferation (Narvekar et al.).” 

Acupuncture is an effective treatment modality for the alleviation of frozen shoulder. Also termed adhesive capsulitis, frozen shoulder is characterized by shoulder pain and range of motion loss in the rotator cuff region. Arm movements become difficult and frozen shoulder often interferes with a peaceful night’s sleep. In a controlled experiment conducted at the Guangdong 999 Brain Hospital, researchers determined that acupuncture alleviates pain and restores range of motion to the shoulder for patients with frozen shoulder.


Shoulder Acupoints 


Researchers measured the efficacy of electroacupuncture and extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) as separate and combined treatment modalities. Both protocols achieved significant positive patient outcomes. Optimal results were achieved when both treatment modalities were combined into a comprehensive and integrated regimen of care. 

Acupuncture is found effective for the treatment of paralysis caused by a stroke. Researches tested the Shujintongluo acupuncture protocol for the treatment of hemiplegia, a type of stroke affecting one side of the body. The addition of acupuncture to standard drug therapy following an acute cerebral infarction increased the positive patient outcome rate by 11.77%.


Acupoints of the arm needled in this pictureUpper limb acupoints 

A randomized clinical trial of 68 patients examined results in two groups. One group received standard drug therapy and the other group received standard drug therapy plus acupuncture. The drug therapy only group had a total effective rate of 70.59%. The group receiving drug therapy plus acupuncture had an 82.36% total effective rate. 

Acupuncture is effective for the prevention of nausea and vomiting caused by cisplatin based chemotherapy. Researchers at the Cangzhou Hospital of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine (Hebei, China) conducted a study comparing the effects of drug therapy as a standalone procedure with acupuncture combined with drug therapy. Based on the data, the researchers conclude that acupuncture plus antiemetic drug therapy is significantly more effective than using only antiemetic drug therapy.


CV and ST channel acupoints 


Two groups were compared. In one group, chemotherapy patients received only tropisetron hydrochloride as a means to control nausea and vomiting. In the second group, tropisetron hydrochloride was combined with acupuncture therapy. The results indicate that acupuncture is an important treatment option for patients receiving cisplatin based chemotherapy for the purposes of preventing nausea and vomiting. 

Researchers find warm needle acupuncture combined with herbal medicine safe and effective for the alleviation of menstrual cramping and pain. In a controlled clinical trial, administration of acupuncture plus moxibustion obtained a 90.7% total effective rate for the relief of primary dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps and pain). The group receiving acupuncture plus herbs outperformed a drug control group receiving the NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) flufenamic acid. The NSAID is classified as an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antipyretic drug. The group receiving NSAID pain management achieved a 72.1% total effective rate. Acupuncture plus moxibustion with herbs outperformed the NSAID by 18.6%.


Blue needles on lower back


A total of 86 patients with primary dysmenorrhea were randomly divided into a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatment group (i.e., acupuncture, moxa, herbs) and a drug control group (i.e., flufenamic acid). A one month follow-up confirmed the results. TCM achieved a 90.7% total effective rate and the drug therapy had a 72.1% rate. Recurrence of symptoms was significantly lower in the TCM group than the drug group. Additionally, levels of plasma PGF2-alpha (prostaglandin F2 alpha) and PGE2 (prostaglandin E2) improved significantly in the TCM group. The biochemical improvements were significantly greater in the TCM group than changes achieved in the drug group. 

Researches find acupuncture effective for the treatment of chronic pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). A total of 70 female patients were randomly assigned to two groups and the results were compared. Group 1 received acupuncture and group 2 received Fu Ke Qian Jin Pian for oral intake. The group receiving acupuncture had a 91.43% total effective rate and the Fu Ke Qian Jin Pian herbal medicine group had a 74.29% total effective rate.


Needle in hand 


Acute PID is often treated with antibiotics and surgery; however, chronic PID is often unresponsive to multiple regimens of antibiotics and exploratory surgery. This research indicates that acupuncture and herbal medicine are both effective for the alleviation of chronic PID. Acupuncture outperformed the herbal tablets by 17.14%. The 91.43% total effective rate produced by acupuncture indicates that it is a viable treatment option for patients with chronic PID. 

Acupuncture combined with supplementary Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) modalities is found effective for the alleviation of chronic neck, shoulder, back, and osteoarthritis pain. Researchers provided acupuncture treatments over the course of eight weekly sessions in a group setting. The researchers confirm that the therapeutic benefits of acupuncture have lasting results. All acupuncture treatments ceased at the eight week data point. A 24 week follow-up confirms that pain levels remain reduced even though no treatments were provided after the eight week data point.


Seated position treatment of the shoulder.


The total therapy package provided to participants included weekly acupuncture, Tui-Na massage, auricular acupoint stimulation, and Gua Sha. The research was conducted by investigators from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (New York), Mount Sinai Beth Israel Medical Center (New York), and the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing (New York). The results were published in Pain Medicine, a publication of the American Academy of Pain Medicine. 

Researchers conclude that electroacupuncture plus moxibustion increases the clinical effective rate of physiotherapy for the treatment of infantile cerebral palsy. Binzhou City Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital researchers combined Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) therapy (i.e., electroacupuncture and moxibustion) with standard physiotherapy. Patients receiving both TCM care and physiotherapy in a combined treatment protocol had superior patient outcomes compared with patients receiving only physiotherapy. The physiotherapy control group achieved a total effective rate of 78.9%. The TCM care plus physiotherapy treatment group achieved a total effective rate of 92.9%. The addition of TCM care to physiotherapy increases the total effective rate by 14%. Let’s take a look at the results.


Acupuncture doll and acupuncturist 


The study design was as follows. The investigation involved the selection of 80 patients who received acupuncture and physiotherapy treatment at the acupuncture department of the Binzhou City TCM Hospital. Patients were randomly assigned to a treatment group and a control group. The treatment group had 42 patients, and the control group had 38 patients. Both groups received identical physiotherapy. The treatment group received acupuncture and moxibustion therapy in addition to physiotherapy. 

Researchers conclude that acupuncture reduces hypertension and prevents brain damage due to chronic high blood pressure. A controlled laboratory investigation finds acupuncture effective for the regulation of blood pressure while simultaneously preventing excessive cell death in the brain. In a quantification of acupuncture’s effective mechanisms, researchers identified important biological responses elicited by acupuncture responsible for producing therapeutic benefits.


Xuehai (SP10) 


The research team of Lu et al. identified biochemical responses elicited by the application of three acupuncture techniques. Reinforcing twirling, reducing twirling, and needle retention techniques resulted in reduced blood pressure and downregulation of cell death in the brain when compared with a control group. All three manual acupuncture techniques prevented “target organ damage by increasing the Bcl-2/Bax ratio and inhibiting apoptosis of hippocampal neurons.” 

Researchers find acupuncture safe and effective for the treatment of pressure ulcers. In a controlled study, investigators demonstrate that acupuncture significantly enhances the rate of positive patient outcomes for patients receiving standard wound care for pressure ulcers. Patients receiving acupuncture plus standard wound care had an 88.2% total effective rate. Patients receiving only standard wound care had a 70.6% total effective rate.


Three Needles 


Research published in the Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion finds acupuncture effective for the treatment of pressure ulcers. Yang et al. compared patients receiving acupuncture plus standard wound care with patients receiving only standard wound care. Patients receiving both acupuncture and standard wound care treatments had greater positive patient outcomes. Acupuncture shrank ulcerative lesions and decreased PUSH scores. PUSH is a measurement tool for patients with pressure ulcers. It categorizes the ulcer with respect to surface area, exudate, and type of wound tissue to provide an indication of the improvement or deterioration in pressure ulcer healing. 

Researchers conclude that acupuncture reduces the risk of coronary heart disease in patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia. A massive sample size of over 158,420 patients with fibromyalgia were included in the study. A total of 81,843 patients received acupuncture treatments and 76,582 patients never received acupuncture. A total of 12,522 patients developed coronary heart disease during the follow-up period. Only 4,389 patients receiving acupuncture developed coronary heart disease but 8,133 patients that did not receive acupuncture developed coronary heart disease. The researchers conclude that acupuncture “significantly decreased the risk of CHD [coronary heart disease] in patients with fibromyalgia with or without comorbidities.”


Back Shu Points


The researchers note that acupuncture decreased the risk of coronary heart disease equally for both men and women. The risk of coronary heart disease increased with the age of patients; however, acupuncture decreased risks across all age groups. In addition, acupuncture decreased the risk of coronary heart disease regardless of whether or not patients took steroid medications, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), or statins. 

University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) researchers find acupuncture effective for the treatment of cardiac arrhythmias. In a meta-analysis of eight independent investigations, acupuncture had an 87% – 100% success rate for converting patients to a “normal sinus rhythm after acupuncture.” Based on the findings, the University of Minnesota researchers recommend additional studies, including those with long-term follow-up examinations, to confirm the results. [1]


BL15 (Xinshu) 


Beijing University researchers produced similar findings. They concluded that “CA [conventional acupuncture] may be a useful and safe alternative or additive approach to AADs [anti-arrhythmia drugs] for cardiac arrhythmia, especially in VPB [ventricular premature beat] and Af [atrial fibrillation] patients, which mainly based on a pooled estimate and result from 1 study with higher methodological quality.” [2] The Beijing University researchers note that additional studies are required to confirm the results in order to produce a more “robust conclusion.”