Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture News and Research


Researchers conclude that acupuncture reduces pain and stiffness while restoring physical functioning for patients with knee osteoarthritis. Using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, the researchers made an important finding. Acupuncture successfully downregulated osteoarthritis related proinflammatory plasma levels of TNFα, IL-6, and apelin.




TNFα and IL-6 (interleukin 6) are major proinflammatory cytokines involved in osteoarthritis pathophysiology and are associated with radiographic osteoarthritis and knee cartilage loss. Elevated levels are associated with knee pain (Stannus et al.). The adipokine apelin is also correlated with inflammation, pain, and osteoarthritis. 

Researchers demonstrate excellent clinical results using acupuncture for the treatment of lumbar disc herniations.

Researchers find acupuncture safe and effective for the treatment of lumbar disc herniations across multiple independent clinical trials. A meta-analysis of investigations reveals that Jiaji acupoints yield significant positive patient outcomes when combined with manual and electroacupuncture techniques. Distal and abdominal acupuncture also demonstrated significant positive patient outcomes. This research review covers rare acupuncture points demonstrating clinical efficacy and details a powerful manual acupuncture technique proven effective for relief of lumbar disc herniation symptoms. We’ll start with primary research by Song et al. and then take a close look at a meta-analysis by Wang et al., including specific approaches to clinical care proven to deliver excellent results.


Lumbar Discs 


Researchers find both electroacupuncture and manual acupuncture effective for the treatment of lumbar disc herniations. Song et al. conducted a clinical trial at the Xixiang People’s Hospital in Guangdong, China. Electroacupuncture and manual acupuncture significantly reduced patients’ pain levels. Outstanding positive patient outcomes were recorded for the electroacupuncture treatment group. Patients with lumbar disc herniations receiving electroacupuncture had a 91.8% total treatment effective rate. Improvements included pain reductions, increases in range of motion, and improved straight leg lift testing. 

Music electroacupuncture benefits the brain and demonstrates efficaciousness in the treatment of depression.

Researchers conclude that music electroacupuncture causes improved behavioral changes and benefits to neuronal structures in the hippocampus. In a laboratory experiment on depressive rats, music electroacupuncture outperforms fluoxetine (trade name Prozac) for regulating monoamine neurotransmitter levels. Based on the findings, the researchers (Cao et al.) conclude that music electroacupuncture demonstrates efficaciousness for the treatment of depression.


 Electroacupuncture on a woman's back


In a separate investigation (Tang et al.), two types of acupuncture are found to successfully regulate behavioral changes and β-amyloid protein levels in a laboratory experiment. Based on the findings, the researchers note that music electroacupuncture and standard pulsed electroacupuncture may assist in the prevention of Alzheimer Disease. In a controlled experiment, laboratory rats receiving electroacupuncture had decreased latency times, improved swimming distances, and significant reductions of β-amyloid protein levels. β-amyloid (Aβ) proteins are the main constituents of amyloid plaques occurring in Alzheimer disease patients’ brains. The researchers note that music electroacupuncture and standard electroacupuncture improved “learning and memorizing abilities.” Notably, music electroacupuncture outperformed standard electroacupuncture. 

Researchers document that acupuncture produces higher pregnancy rates than fertility medications for women with hyperprolactinemia (HPL).

Acupuncture produces a higher rate of pregnancies than fertility medications with significantly less adverse effects. In a controlled clinical trial, researchers document that acupuncture outperforms bromocriptine and bromocriptine plus clomiphene for the treatment of infertility for women with hyperprolactinemia (HPL). Acupuncture produced a 43.3% pregnancy rate whereas fertility medications produced 20% pregnancy rate.


Image of a pregnant woman.  


One important mechanism responsible for the fertility treatment success with acupuncture is hormonal regulation. Acupuncture more rapidly normalized levels of prolactin than fertility medications. In hyperprolactinemia, elevated levels of prolactin (PRL) hormone causes infertility by inhibiting gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) production. GnRH is responsible for stimulating gonadotropins (Gn), luteinising hormone (LH), and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) production. As a result, hyperprolactinemia affects the overall function of the ovaries, ovulation, and corpus luteum formation because Gn, LH, and FSH play an important biological role in reproductive health.

Olympians use cupping during training and research supports its use.


 cupping neck re


Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps has attracted a great deal of attention for his use of cupping therapy. Phelps notes that he receives cupping before swimming meets, especially for soreness. Other Olympians including Alex Naddour, Natalie Coughlin, and Pavel Sankovich published photos of their cupping marks on social media. USA gymnast Alexander Naddour notes that cupping is “the secret” that maintains his health. Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin also employs cupping as part of her physical training regimen. 

Researchers find acupuncture beneficial for diabetic glucose level regulation and for the relief of diabetic gastrointestinal disorders.

Acupuncture alleviates diabetes symptoms. Researchers in two separate studies find acupuncture effective for the relief of diabetes. In one study, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine researchers find acupuncture combined with moxibustion effective for the relief of a broad variety of diabetes related conditions.


Guan Yuan, CV4 Insertion 


In a second study, researchers conclude that acupuncture effectively reduces or eliminates diabetic gastroparesis. This condition, also referred to as delayed gastric emptying, involves pathologically slow movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine. This is caused by high glucose levels in diabetics that leads to vagus nerve damage, which leads to the inability of the nerve to properly regulate stomach muscles. Acupuncture successfully restores digestive functionality wherein gastroparesis is abated. Importantly, a six month follow-up found acupuncture significantly more effective than two different types of pharmaceutical medications for the treatment of diabetic gastroparesis.

Acupuncture relieves neck pain, numbness, and weakness caused by intervertebral disc degeneration.

Researchers demonstrate the efficacy of acupuncture point prescriptions for the treatment of pain, numbness, weakness, and electrical shooting sensations in the neck, upper back, and arms due to cervical spondylosis. This condition is caused by soft tissue and spinal degeneration in the neck, which impacts nerve conduction. The cervical spondylosis induced nerve impingement causes radiculopathy, wherein the nerves fail to function properly. This leads to pain, weakness, electric shooting sensations, or numbness. The researchers find acupuncture safe and effective for the restoration of nerve functioning and subsequent alleviation of symptoms.


Neck Jiaji points


Acupuncture alleviates radiculopathy due to cervical spondylosis. Guangzhou Haizhu District Ruibaojie Community Health Center researchers (Xiao et al.) conclude that conventional acupuncture and balance method acupuncture produce significant positive patient outcomes for the treatment of radiculopathy due to cervical spondylosis. Radiculopathy occurs in approximately 50% – 60% of cervical spondylosis cases.

Patients suffering from depression often have the added burden of coping with the adverse effects of antidepressant medications. A common antidepressant, paroxetine, may cause anxiety, sleep problems, loss of appetite, constipation, and dizziness. A recent study from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine demonstrates that acupuncture treatments alleviate the adverse effects associated with paroxetine intake and improve the overall quality of life for patients with mild to moderate depression. The researchers conclude that the integrative approach to care, combining acupuncture with paroxetine in a unified treatment protocol, significantly improves the rate of positive patient outcomes.




Researchers (Wang et al.) from five medical research centers in China collaborated to study the relationship between acupuncture therapy and paroxetine intake for the treatment of depression and documented significant clinical results. Seventy-two patients with mild to moderate depression were divided into three groups. Group A consisted of 23 patients. These 23 received electro-acupuncture therapy and paroxetine. Group B, which included 32 depression patients, received manual acupuncture therapy and paroxetine. The acupuncture point prescriptions used for groups A and B were selected from the same list of acupoints. In addition, paroxetine dosages were identical and acupuncture treatments were administered every other day. Paroxetine was taken orally each day after breakfast. For the third group, 17 people in group C were prescribed paroxetine and received no acupuncture therapy. 

Researchers find acupuncture and herbal medicine effective for the reduction of abdominal fluid retention due to liver cirrhosis.

Researchers document that acupuncture combined with moxibustion and herbal medicine enhance the effectiveness of drug therapy for patients with cirrhotic ascites (CA). Patient benefits include reduced fluid retention, improved liver function, and lower relapse rates. In addition, hospitalization durations are significantly reduced. Let’s take a look at the results and how they are achieved.


 liver cirrhotic ascites2


Acupuncture plus moxibustion is a potent modality of therapeutic care for the alleviation of cirrhotic ascites. Researchers tested the efficacy of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approach to care and discovered that it significantly reduced hospitalization times, lowered relapse rates, and alleviated symptoms. In a study entitled Clinical Observation of 135 Cases of Cirrhotic Ascites Treated with Acupuncture and Medicine, Dr. Du documents an 80% total treatment effective rate for patients receiving acupuncture plus moxibustion in addition to conventional medications. Patients receiving TCM herbal medicine in addition to standard care had a 77.8% total effective rate and patients receiving only standard medications had a 66.7% total effective rate. 

Acupuncture reduces the frequency and intensity of angina, facilitates decreases in medication dosage levels, and prevents resistance to drug therapy efficaciousness.

A team of eight researchers conclude that acupuncture is safe and effective for the treatment of stable angina. Wading through the sea of medical research is challenging for anyone. It is understandable that effective traditional health practices may be overlooked for the treatment of common ailments. Here, investigators took up the challenge of determining acupuncture’s outcome measures and found a significant total effective rate.


Heart and vasculature image 


Angina is chest pain that results from diminished blood flow to the heart. Stable angina is a type of chest pain or discomfort that usually occurs upon exertion or due to stress. New patients with angina are diagnosed every year. For these people, their way of life changes—often working to avoid alarming squeezing pains in the upper body with lifestyle modifications. The occurrence rate varies worldwide. In China, for example, the occurrence rate of angina has increased annually, and the age of onset has become younger, according to the authors of the meta-analysis. The prognosis varies, but risks for people diagnosed with angina pectoris include myocardial infarction or sudden death.

Researchers have successfully documented not only that acupuncture is safe and effective for the relief of migraines, but also how acupuncture achieves positive outcomes.

Acupuncture has been shown to induce important biological responses to prevent and alleviate migraines. Imaging studies of the brain using fMRI technology confirm that acupuncture causes specific cortical responses to achieve lasting analgesic effects. In addition, blood level measurements document specific responses to acupuncture that play an important role in preventing and eliminating pain. Let’s take a look at the data to see how scientists have mapped how acupuncture works to stop migraine headaches.


Back Shu Points


Researchers conclude that acupuncture is effective for the prevention and treatment of migraine headaches. A meta-analysis of controlled clinical and laboratory investigations is the basis for the conclusion. In one randomized-controlled trial on the effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment for migraines, less migraine days and less pain intensity levels were recorded when acupuncture was administered. Furthermore, no severe adverse effects occurred. A follow-up of up to three months following acupuncture treatments maintained the same results and showed that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of migraines both on the short-term and long-term basis. 

Acupuncture improves esophageal function for patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease, even in cases where drugs are ineffective.

Researchers find acupuncture effective for alleviating gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Patients unresponsive to drug therapy saw significant improvements after receiving acupuncture care. High resolution measurements of the esophagus confirm that acupuncture improves the activity of the valve whose proper functioning prevents acid reflux.


gastroesophageal area


Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine researchers (Lin et al.) conclude that acupuncture greatly improves esophageal motility in refractory GERD patients. The results were confirmed with high resolution esophageal impedance manometry, a test measuring the function of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and esophageal muscles. 

Electroacupuncture halts accidental urinary leakage and restores bladder control.

Researchers demonstrate that electroacupuncture is safe and highly effective for the treatment of urinary incontinence in women. Electroacupuncture significantly reduced urgency and leakage. Electroacupuncture restored long-term bladder control and produced a 78.6% total effective rate.


Bladder and Kidney diagram 


Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of urinary incontinence in women. China Academy of Chinese Medical Science researchers (Jin et al.) conclude that electroacupuncture produces significant positive patient outcomes for women with mixed urinary incontinence (MUI). Electroacupuncture produced a total effective rate of 78.6%. All metrics demonstrated significant clinical improvements: International Consultation on Incontinence Questionnaire – Short Form (ICI-Q-SF), 3-day urinary diary, 24-hour urine collection test. The overall ICI-Q-SF total score of 16 prior to electroacupuncture improved to 8 after treatments. The mean occurrence of urinary incontinence over 24 hours was reduced by 66.67% after treatments with electroacupuncture. The mean quantity of urinary leakage over 24 hours was 39 g before treatments and 18.6 g after treatments with electroacupuncture. 

Acupuncture relieves dry eyes by increasing tear secretion and stability, reducing tear film break-up, and preventing ocular damage.

Researchers find acupuncture safe and effective for the treatment of dry eyes. In a controlled study, investigators demonstrate that acupuncture significantly enhances the rate of positive patient outcomes for patients using lubricant eye drops for dry eye syndrome. Patients receiving acupuncture plus eye drops had a 76.92% total effective rate. Patients receiving only eye drops had a 53.85% total effective rate.


Eye treatment protocol


Research published in the Chinese Journal of Practical Ophthalmology finds acupuncture effective for the treatment of dry eye syndrome (keratoconjunctivitis sicca). Huang et al. compared patients receiving acupuncture and lubricant eye drops with patients receiving only lubricant eye drops. Patients receiving acupuncture treatments had significantly greater positive patient outcomes. Acupuncture increased lacrimal gland secretion, improved tear film stability, and slowed tear film breakdown. 

Acupuncture and acupoint herbal plaster therapy increase positive patient outcomes for patients with chronic coughing.

In a controlled investigation, acupuncture outperformed drug therapy for the treatment of chronic coughing following the acute stage of a respiratory infection. Another investigation finds acupoint herbal plaster therapy effective for improving patient outcomes for children with chronic coughing. In an integrative approach to patient care, acupoint herbal plaster therapy enhanced patient outcomes for children receiving standard drug therapy. 

 ST36 (Zusanli)Location of ST36 (Zusanli)


An investigation by Li and Shi finds acupuncture more effective for the treatment of chronic coughing than drug therapy. Li and Shi conducted their controlled trial in Tangshan (China). They tested the efficacy of acupuncture versus methoxyphenamine, a bronchodilator that is a β-sympathomimetic agent. The acupuncture points tested were limited to the Lung-Taiyin and Stomach-Yangming acupuncture channels. The results tabulated, acupuncture produced significantly greater patient outcomes. As a result, researchers conclude that acupuncture is more effective for the treatment of post-infectious chronic coughing than methoxyphenamine. Acupuncture produced a 90% total treatment effective rate and drug therapy produced an 80% total treatment effective rate. 

Acupuncture reduces medication requirements and post-surgical pain for gynecologic laparoscopy patients.

Researchers conclude that acupuncture for gynecologic laparoscopy patients reduces general anesthesia dosage requirements, decreases post-surgical pain, and improves the time to wake and time to fully alert after surgery. In a controlled investigation, acupuncture patients scored better in many other indices as well. Patients having received acupuncture during surgery had increased stability of the heart beat and improved blood pressure upon waking. The results were achieved by applying electroacupuncture to two acupuncture points located on hand and forearm.


Hegu (LI4) on female hand with copper handle filiform needle 

Acupuncture improves recovery rates and lowers medication dosages for patients receiving gynecologic laparoscopy, according to research conducted by Huang et al. at the Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture reduced the dosage requirements for general anesthesia. In addition, acupuncture improved time to wake and alertness coming out of general anesthesia. In an important finding, patients receiving acupuncture had significantly less post-surgical pain. Across all of the above indices, patients receiving acupuncture outperformed patients receiving no acupuncture (control group).

Clinical trials demonstrate that acupuncture relieves chronic constipation and produces greater long-term patient outcomes than drugs.

Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine researchers find true acupuncture more effective than sham acupuncture for the relief of constipation. In another study by Yang et al., acupuncture combined with herbal medicine relieves constipation in the elderly and demonstrates superior patient outcomes to pharmaceutical medications. Acupuncture plus herbs produced a high total effective rate and very low relapse rate. Let’s take a look at the results of the investigations.


CV12 and ST25 


Zheng et al. (Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine) conclude that acupuncture is safe and effective for the treatment of functional constipation, often referred to as chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC). This type of constipation does not have a known anatomical or physiological etiology in biomedicine. CIC often involves infrequent defecation, hard stools, straining during bowel movements, and incomplete evacuation of stools. Secondary symptoms include stomach cramping, pain, and abdominal bloating or distention. 

Researchers conclude that acupuncture reduces symptomatic presentations and benefits brain responses as measured by EEG for children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

Researchers conclude that acupuncture increases the efficacy of biofeedback treatments and is also effective as a standalone therapy for children with ADHD. EEG results and symptomatic presentations significantly improved with the implementation of acupuncture therapy protocols. Acupuncture produced an 84.45% total effective rate as a standalone therapy and outperformed Chinese herbal medicine, which achieved a 78.77% total effective rate. Acupuncture combined with biofeedback achieved a 91.5% total effective rate. Take a look at the results in two groundbreaking studies.


Japanese and Chinese needles compared with coins for size comarisonJapanese and Chinese Acupuncture Needles 

Zhang et al. conducted a clinical trial on the efficacy of acupuncture versus Chinese herbal treatments on young children for the treatment of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). ADHD involves inattention or hyperactivity and impulsiveness that complicates daily functioning and may contribute to developmental difficulties. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, ADHD is a brain disorder characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. 

Acupuncture alleviates cerebral palsy related hearing disorders and excess drooling.

Hospital researchers find acupuncture effective for relieving excessive drooling and for improving hearing in cerebral palsy patients. In a surprise finding, the optimal acupuncture needle retention time for benefitting hearing was not the longest retention time. A shorter duration produced superior patient outcomes. Take a look at the findings and protocols to learn what the researchers discovered.


  Four filiform needles against size of a penny


Acupuncture is an effective treatment for cerebral palsy related complications, including drooling and hearing disorders. In a clinical study conducted at Neijiang Second People’s Hospital, researchers Xie and Lu determined that acupuncture and massotherapy significantly alleviate drooling and improve quality of life scores for cerebral palsy patients. Evidence suggests that cerebral palsy (CP) related drooling is correlated with motor impairments affecting swallowing (Senner et al.). This condition affects the overall quality of life and may impede speech and increase risk of infectious diseases.

Researchers find acupuncture and moxibustion effective for clearing acne in patients with the Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis of yin deficiency.

Acupuncture and moxibustion clear acne, however, moxibustion demonstrated superior patient outcomes. Using a protocol implemented by Zhang et al., moxibustion produced a 90% total effective rate and acupuncture produced an 83.3% total effective rate. Participants demonstrating significant improvements did not relapse, measured at four weeks after completion of treatments.


 Individual needle on skin


Acupuncture and moxibustion are effective treatment modalities for acne sufferers. Zhang et al. conducted a clinical trial to determine the efficaciousness of acupuncture and moxibustion for the treatment of acne due to yin deficiency with internal heat. While both modalities produced positive patient outcomes, moxibustion was slightly more effective than acupuncture for the treatment of this particular class of acne.

Recent Reviews

5 Stars
great info, clear concise
5 Stars
Great info on medical studies and how to use them to increase patient ...
5 Stars
The course was very helpful and informative.
5 Stars
comprehensive review.
5 Stars
more clear understanding common PCOS symptoms, and TCM approaches.
5 Stars
Very useful information as a starting point for working with insurance...
5 Stars
Excellent and concise ethics course