Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture News and Research


Researchers find acupuncture equally effective for the treatment of hypertension as the drug nifedipine, a pharmaceutical medication used for the treatment of high blood pressure and angina. Nifedipine is a calcium channel blocker that relaxes the heart muscles and blood vessels. Researchers at the Jiaozuo Tongren Hospital compared the effects of acupuncture therapy with the administration of nifedipine for the immediate reduction of high blood pressure levels in patients with primary hypertension. In the Jiaozuo Tongren Hospital randomized-controlled clinical trial, both acupuncture and nifedipine successfully reduced blood pressure by 30 – 40 mmHg. [1]


SP10 in the Vastus Medialis 


The researchers determined that acupuncture and nifedipine provided different advantages for the management of hypertension. Data points measured immediate and short-term benefits of both therapies. At the 5, 10, 15, and 20 minute data points after treatment, nifedipine produced lower systolic and diastolic blood pressures. However, at the 30 and 60 minute data points after treatment, there was no statistical difference between the effects of acupuncture and nifedipine for both systolic and diastolic blood pressure management. 

Researchers find acupuncture and herbs effective for improving acute appendicitis patient outcomes. An emergency medical condition often requiring an appendectomy, acute appendicitis may alternately be treated with drug therapy under controlled conditions in a hospital setting. Fujian University hospital researchers combined acupuncture and herbs with standard drug therapy. The addition of acupuncture and herbs to the drug therapy treatment protocol increased the total effective rate by 23.69%. In addition, adverse affects due to medical intervention dropped to 7.89% from 28.95% with the addition of acupuncture and herbs to the treatment protocol. Based on the data, the researchers conclude that the addition of acupuncture and herbs to drug therapy is safe, effective, and reduces iatrogenic complications for patients with acute appendicitis. [1]


Extra Point Lanweixue 


Patients receiving only drug therapy had a 71.05% total treatment effective rate. However, that number improves to a 94.74% total treatment effective rate when acupuncture and herbs are added to the treatment protocol. Drug therapy produced 17 patients that were completely cured and 10 patients improved significantly. The study group receiving drug therapy plus acupuncture and herbs had a total of 29 patients that were completely cured and 7 patients significantly improved. 

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.


CV6 and Moxa


The addition of acupuncture to clomiphene therapy increased pregnancy rates, lowered the resistance and pulsatility indices of the uterine arteries, and reduced the adverse effects caused by clomiphene. The increase in positive patient outcomes combined with reductions of adverse effects supports the research team’s (Taian Maternal and Child Health Care Hospital) conclusion, “TCM [Traditional Chinese Medicine] can be either applied alone or combined with Western medicine to up pregnancy rates and treat infertility. With the help of TCM [i.e., acupuncture], treatment for infertility can be more effective while producing much less adverse effects.” [1] 

Acupuncture successfully alleviates depression when combined with moxibustion. Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine researchers (Second Affiliated Hospital) determined that acupuncture plus moxibustion provides both short and long-term benefits for patients suffering from depression. The university researchers discovered that traditional manual acupuncture stimulation increases the rate of positive patient outcomes. When manual acupuncture techniques were used to elicit deqi at the acupoints, the total treatment efficacy rate significantly improved.


Back Shu Points


Deqi encompasses a specific set of sensations elicited by manual acupuncture stimulation. The researchers determined that achieving the arrival of deqi sensations produces superior patient outcomes for patients suffering from depression. In addition, true acupuncture was found effective and sham acupuncture did not produce significant positive patient outcomes. The sham controls eliminated concerns regarding the placebo effect and confirmed the validity of the true acupuncture results. 

Acupuncture reduces inflammation and researchers have discovered how it works. In a laboratory controlled scientific investigation, a key biological marker has been identified, quantified, and directly correlated with the application of acupuncture. Acupuncture successfully downregulates a proinflammatory biochemical (tumor necrosis factor alpha), which results in anti-inflammatory responses. In addition, the researchers have mapped the neural pathways by which acupuncture signaling stimulates anti-inflammatory effects.


TNFa22Crystal Structure of TNF-α  

Researchers in Korea have identified a mechanism by which acupuncture stimulation at the acupoint ST36 (Zusanli) has an anti-inflammatory effect. By downregulating tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), acupuncture relieves systemic inflammation. By testing the effects that a splenic neurectomy and vagotomy have on TNF-α levels in the spleen and the brain, Lim et al. found that the anti-inflammatory effects of ST36 (Zusanli) rely on the vagus nerve pathway. Both manual acupuncture stimulation (MAC) and electroacupuncture (EAC) induce c-Fos protein generation. However, only manual acupuncture stimulation has the effect of downregulating TNF-α; electroacupuncture has the opposite effect when applied to ST36. 

Acupuncture is found effective for the treatment of acute gout attacks. An important acupuncture technique was found particularly helpful in the reduction of pain and inflammation. In findings published in research entitled Clinical Observation on Treatment of Acute Gout With Acupuncture, the surround-acupuncture technique significantly boosted treatment efficacy for acute gout attack relief. The study demonstrates that acupuncture, especially the surround-needling technique, improves blood circulation and reduces inflammation.


Rotator Cuff Needled 


According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles, acupuncture was found effective for the alleviation of dampness and heat during acute gout attacks. While seemingly archaic and mysterious, the terms dampness and heat have direct correlates in current biomedical semantics. Dampness refers to swelling and edema associated with gout, including uric acid crystal buildup in tissues. Heat is a broad term often referring to inflammation. The Latin terms defining the key components of inflammation (rubor, dolor, calor, tumor) date back to writings from Roman civilization and refer to redness, pain, heat, and swelling. In many ways, the terms dampness and heat are the ancient Chinese correlates of the Latin terminology for inflammation. 

Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of acne. In a randomized-controlled study from the Beijing Daxing Hospital, it was determined that acupuncture produces significant improvements for acne patients. Acupuncture had a 94.17% total treatment efficacy rate for patients with acne. Conventional biomedicine, in the same study, had an 82.5% total treatment effective rate. Let’s start with a look at the research and then we’ll see how acupuncture treatments boost treatment efficacy rates for the treatment of acne.


face points 


Research from the Beijing Daxing Hospital documents that a specific acupuncture treatment protocol outperforms conventional drug therapy for the treatment of acne vulgaris. The results of this investigation indicate that acupuncture is safe and effective for the treatment of acne. The results are published in a paper entitled Efficacy of Acupuncture Treatment of Acne

Researchers find a specialized acupuncture point prescription highly effective for the treatment of insomnia. Researchers at the China PLA Navy General Hospital determined that Wuhua foot  acupuncture combined with body style acupuncture has a 95.24% total effective rate for the treatment of insomnia. Using shallow needling depths, the results were clinically significant. The researchers conclude that the foot Wuhua and body style acupuncture protocol is effective for the alleviate of sleep disturbances.


HT7 Shenmen 


Wuhua foot acupuncture differs from standard foot acupuncture. In standard foot acupuncture, for example, three powerful and important acupoints for the treatment of insomnia are located on the bottom of the foot. One important point is located on the bottom of the foot at the midpoint between the medial and lateral malleoli. This acupoint is indicated for the treatment of neurasthenia, hysteria, insomnia, and low blood pressure. Its sedative effects are often remarkably effective. Another acupoint for the treatment of insomnia is located on the bottom of the foot, 5 units (cun) distal to the heel on the midline. This is complemented by a third acupoint that is located on the bottom of the foot, 5 units distal to the heel and 1 unit lateral to the midline. 

Acupuncture enhances the efficacy of an experimental drug for the treatment of vascular dementia. Researchers compared the efficacy of a nootropic drug as a standalone therapy with a combination of the drug and scalp acupuncture. The results are definitive. The total effective rate for the nootropic drug is 73.3%; however, a combination of acupuncture and the drug produced a 93.3% total effective rate. [1]


Scalp Points 


MMSE (mini-mental state examination) and Katz ADL (Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living) scores improved by 20% when acupuncture was added to the treatment regimen. The MMSE measures memory and other cognitive abilities. The Katz ADL measures patient outcomes for bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, self control of urination and defecation, and eating. 

Acupuncture is an effective treatment modality for the restoration of swallowing after a craniocerebral injury (CCI). Brain injuries may result in dysphagia, a disorder involving difficulty or discomfort when swallowing. Researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial and determined that acupuncture combined with neuromuscular electrical stimulation and rehabilitation exercises is an effective treatment protocol for the treatment of dysphagia after a CCI.




Wang et al. studied 90 patients with dysphagia caused by craniocerebral injuries. This included patients with several pathologies including traumatic brain injuries, cerebral infarctions, and cerebral hemorrhages. The participants were randomized into three groups. Group A was provided conventional rehabilitation exercises. Group B was given rehabilitation exercises plus neuromuscular electrical stimulation. Group C was given rehabilitation exercises, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, and acupuncture. 

Acupuncture enhances brain activity for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers examined the effects of two acupuncture points on Alzheimer’s patients with the Siemens 3-Tesla MRI system. The large field of view, high speed, and high image quality of the MRI scanner ensures accuracy of the data. Neuropsychological and clinical examinations confirm the findings derived from the MRIs. Acupuncture restores activity in the hippocampus for Alzheimer’s disease patients.


hippocampus lateral view


The hippocampus is part of the brain’s limbic system and is responsible for short and long-term memory. Degradation of this region is found in Alzheimer’s disease patients. The research team used MRIs to document that Alzheimer’s disease patients exhibit diminished hippocampal connectivity in frontal and temporal areas during resting states. After completion of acupuncture treatments applied to acupoints LI4 (Hegu) and LV3 (Taichong), hippocampal connectivity increased. 

Acupuncture benefits sleep, regulates hormone levels, and reduces symptoms associated with menopause. Taipei Medical University (Taiwan) researchers conclude that acupuncture reduces sleep disturbances associated with menopause. In addition, the researchers discovered that needling acupuncture point SP6 (Sanyinjiao) significantly increases estrogen levels. They add that acupuncture’s ability to reduce menopausal related symptoms, including benefitting sleep, is correlated with its ability to regulate endogenous estrogen levels. The findings were published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, a publication by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.


Estrogen Levels 


Taipei Medical University researchers analyzed 31 randomized controlled trials with a total patient size of 2,433 participants. The researches discovered a homeostatic regulatory effect of acupuncture on three hormones. The researchers conclude that acupuncture, for both perimenopause and postmenopause, significantly

  • reduces sleep disturbances
  • increases serum estradiol (estrogen)
  • reduces serum follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
  • reduces luteinizing hormone (LH)

Acupuncture is effective for pain relief. Researchers from the University of South Florida (Tampa) and the Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Fuzhou) document that acupuncture alleviates pain, in part, by regulation of microglial cells. These are non-neural cells that comprise part of the central nervous system structure. Scientists already knew that microglial cells act as macrophages at sites of damaged central nervous system tissue. The research team (Lin et al.) from the University of South Florida (Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences) along with researchers from the Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (College of Acupuncture) made the key findings.


Glial Cells and Neurons


The researchers cite evidence demonstrating that acupuncture inhibits “microglial and astrocytic proliferation coupled with improved functional recovery after SCI [spinal cord injury].” They add, “acupuncture exerts a remarkable analgesic effect on SCI by also inhibiting production of microglial cells through attenuation of p38MAPK and ERK activation.” The researchers note that their investigation summarizes “clinical evidence demonstrating that acupuncture is capable of producing analgesia in neuropathic pain by suppressing microglial activation.” Funding for the groundbreaking research was provided by the US Department of Defense, University of South Florida Neurosurgery and Brain Repair, and the James and Esther King Biomedical Research Foundation. 

Acupuncture reduces systemic inflammation due to infections and prevents sepsis. Researchers at the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (Department of Surgery) find electroacupuncture effective for the treatment of infections, including polymicrobial peritonitis. In additional research, Qi et al. find Chinese herbal medicine effective for the treatment of osteomyelitis. We will look at both the acupuncture and herbal medicine findings.


Stainless Needles and Herbs 


The Rutgers New Jersey Medical School researchers completed a sham-controlled laboratory investigation. Electroacupuncture successfully regulated cytokine levels and achieved potent antiinflammatory effects that prevented sepsis and death of laboratory animals. In addition, electroacupuncture was shown to significantly boost dopamine levels. 

Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). Shanghai Tongji University researchers tabulated results based on blood tests and ultrasonography related changes. The randomized-controlled investigation demonstrates that acupuncture produces significant improvements in patient outcomes. Acupuncture had a 90.4% total treatment efficacy rate for patients with chronic pelvic inflammatory disease. Objective measurements demonstrate improvements across several findings including those of leukocytes, granulocytes, and neutrophils. In addition, reduction or elimination of stagnant pelvic fluids and inflammatory pelvic masses were significant as a result of acupuncture therapy.


ST25 and CV6


Researchers from Shanghai Tongji University (China) conducted a randomized-controlled study to investigate the treatment efficacy of acupuncture for the treatment of chronic pelvic inflammatory disease. A total of 103 patients were randomly distributed into an herbal medicine control group and an acupuncture treatment group, with 52 cases and 51 cases respectively. The results were published in a research paper entitled Clinical Observations on Acupuncture as Main Treatment for Chronic Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Researchers find acupuncture effective for the relief of postoperative pain. In addition, the research team concludes that acupuncture reduces pain medication dosage requirements needed to achieve pain relief and reduces adverse effects caused by analgesic medications. In a meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled studies, a total of 682 patient outcomes were analyzed. The studies selected for quantitative and qualitative analyses were narrowed down from an initial field of 219 studies. From that group, an initial 40 studies were chosen for a full reviewed based on the quality of the research. A total of 13 studies were then sorted from this group because they met the stringent rigors of randomized controlled trials set by the research team. This process ensured the quality of the research team’s conclusions.


TB14 Jianliao


The research team concludes that acupuncture “significantly reduced postoperative pain and the use of opioids” after surgery. Important findings were supported by subgroups examined in the meta-analysis. The researchers note that adverse effects associated with opioid use (e.g. nausea, sedation, dizziness, urinary disorders, itching) were significantly reduced for patients receiving acupuncture therapy. The researchers add that their statistical analyses ensures that the conclusions are accurate. They note, “Sensitivity analysis using the leave-one-out approach indicated the findings are robust and not dependent on any one study. In addition, no publication bias was detected.” The results were published in their research entitled The Efficacy of Acupuncture in Post-Operative Pain Management: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Researchers find acupuncture effective for the relief of cervical spinal syndrome. This condition involves irritation of the spinal nerves located in the neck. Spinal nerves transmit sensory, motor, and autonomic nervous system signals between the spinal cord and the body. Inflammation and impingement present in cervical spinal syndrome results in head, neck, chest, shoulder, or arm pain and dysfunction. The results of the research demonstrates that acupuncture plus moxibustion yields a high total recovery rate. In addition, nearly every patient receiving acupuncture plus moxibustion demonstrated significant improvements.


LI15 TB14 Shoulder Points 


Researchers from the Hubei Hongan Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital examined 200 cervical syndrome patients in a controlled investigation. The research team discovered that targeted acupuncture treatments produce an extremely high total effective rate and a high complete recovery rate. Targeting involved the application of a primary acupuncture point prescription for all patients plus an additional set of secondary acupuncture points based upon diagnostic variations in clinical presentations. Using this semi-protocolized targeted approach to patient care, the research team achieved a 97% total effective rate across all tiers of improvement. The breakdown into levels of efficaciousness produced surprising results. The total recovery rate was 64%, the significant improvement rate was 17%, the minimal improvement rate was 16%, and 3% had no improvement. 

Acupuncture combined with herbal medicine outperforms drugs for alleviating cognitive dysfunction after a cerebral infarction. Researchers (Wang et al.) compared the therapeutic effects of acupuncture plus herbs with that of a pharmaceutical medication. Two groups were compared. The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) group received acupuncture to benefit the occipital blood vessels and nerves. In addition, the herbal formula Bu Yang Huang Wu Tang was prescribed. The drug group received piracetam, a nootropic derivative of GABA, in tablet form. Nootropic medications are prescribed to benefit memory and cognitive function. The acupuncture plus herbs group achieved a 90% total treatment effective rate. The drug group achieved a 70% total effective rate.


Nape and Upper Back


Acupuncture was applied to Fengchi (GB20) and extra point Gongxue. In this study, Gongxue is located 1.5 cun below Fengchi. However, note that Lifang et al. use an alternate location for Gongxue (1 cun below GB20) in their research entitled Additional effects of acupuncture on early comprehensive rehabilitation in patients with mild to moderate acute ischemic stroke: a multicenter randomized controlled trial. Notably, Lifang et al. conclude that “acupuncture is safe and has additional multi-effect in improving neurologic deficits….” 

Researchers find acupuncture an effective complementary therapy to epidural analgesia during labor and delivery. In a a clinical study from the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University, researchers conclude that acupuncture enhances the effects of epidural analgesia and reduces complications during childbirth. The researchers (Lu, Mai) discovered that patients receiving acupuncture had less emergency caesarean sections, required less epidural analgesics to achieve appropriate pain management levels, and required less assisted deliveries. The results indicate that patient outcomes significantly improve when acupuncture is added to the epidural analgesia protocol.


Hand Acupoints 


During labor, mothers experience labor pain, which stresses the body and may lead to pathological responses affecting the delivery process. Among the painkilling methods available at present, epidural analgesia is currently acknowledged as the one of the most effective and safest painkilling methods during labor, with few adverse effects. However, epidural analgesia may cause weaker uterine contractions, prolong the expulsion stage, and increase the need for assisted birth (Wu, Re, Wang). The research team cites modern studies demonstrating that acupuncture successfully induces labor, reduces delivery time, and strengthens cervical contractions. Based upon the data, the research team initiated the combined protocol investigation of epidural anesthesia with acupuncture. They hypothesized that acupuncture would mitigate anesthesia’s adverse effects and potentially enhance efficaciousness. The results tabulated, the research team discovered that pain relief was achieved more easily, total delivery time reduced significantly, and the rate of vaginal delivery increased. The combined protocol resulted in a significant reduction in the need for caesarean sections. 

Acupuncture reverses brain damage caused by Alzheimer’s Disease plaques and improves memory. Researchers identified the ability of electroacupuncture to reduce pathological plaques in the brain caused by Alzheimer’s Disease. Furthermore, important biochemical secretions are regulated by electroacupuncture that correlate to benefits in cognitive functioning. Laboratory tests confirm that electroacupuncture causes improvements in cognitive functioning, brain plaque reduction, and restores regulation of brain neurotrophin growth factors. We’ll take a look at the acupuncture study’s results and also review important aspects of Alzheimer’s Disease pathology.


Scalp Acupoints


Researchers at The Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine have made promising discoveries about the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and have identified that electroacupuncture (EA) at the acupoint Baihui (DU20) may reverse key neurogenic factors of the disease. The study, conducted on mice, showed that electroacupuncture decreases cognitive impairment and deposits of β-amyloid (Aβ) — the plaque that is one of the defining signs of Alzheimer’s Disease. The researchers also found that electroacupuncture increases the ratio among brain-derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF) to favor those that promote neural potentiation over those that cause apoptosis (programmed cell death). Since ancient times, DU20 has been used to improve cognitive functioning but the mechanisms of action have only recently been mapped by scientific investigations. This study demonstrates that DU20 benefits cognitive functioning and also elucidates the mechanisms of action of the acupoint.