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Does acupuncture work?

As an evidence-based acupuncturist, I am always excited to see and read research about acupuncture. I do not expect you to feel that same enthusiasm but I hope that this will go a little (or a long) way to show you how brilliant acupuncture can be.

In this blog post, I am going to do a round-up of studies involving acupuncture in 2022. They range from pain to pregnancy to oncology and much more in between.

Credit to Dr John McDonald for creating the table below. Cochrane, which is considered to be the gold standard of research shows that up to February 2021 there were 14,940 controlled trials with acupuncture. In comparison, there are 1,014 studies for chiropractors.

I hope that this alone shows you how well-studied acupuncture is.

As always my emails are always open if you have a question about acupuncture.

Love Andrea


Acupuncture for cancer pain: an evidence-based clinical practice guideline

I have written a blog post about the use of acupuncture and supporting life after cancer treatment.

In this study, published in January 2022, they found

This is the first evidence-based guideline for acupuncture in the treatment of cancer pain, and is expected to improve quality of life and care quality for moderate and severe cancer patients.

They make three recommendations following this:

  1. There is a strong recommendation for acupuncture (as opposed to no treatment) to relieve pain in patients with moderate to severe cancer pain;

  2. There is a weak recommendation for the combination treatments with acupuncture/acupressure to reduce pain intensity, decrease the opioid dose, and alleviate opioid-related side effects in moderate to severe cancer pain patients who are using analgesics;

  3. There is a strong recommendation for acupuncture in breast cancer patients to relieve their aromatase inhibitor-induced arthralgia.


Effectiveness of Acupuncture for Pain Control After Cesarean Delivery

In this randomized clinical trial of using acupuncture for pain control after cesarean delivery, they found that

acupuncture reduced pain on movement and accelerated patient mobilization after cesarean delivery compared with placebo acupuncture and standard pharmacological therapy alone.

This trial also found that acupuncture was safe and without adverse effects.

If you would like to read more about acupuncture during pregnancy you can click here for my blog post, which also offers guidance around acupuncture for labour.


Acupuncture in the real world: evaluating a 15‑year NADA auricular acupuncture service for breast cancer survivors experiencing hot flushes and night sweats as a consequence of adjuvant hormonal therapies

Auricular acupuncture for breast cancer survivors experiencing hot flushes and night sweats

In this study of 2285 treatments, the researchers found that auricular acupuncture was effective and sustainable, long-term, for reducing hot flashes and night sweats in breast cancer survivors.

[NADA/auricular acupuncture] proved to be a sustainable intervention over the long term for all parties, including managers, funders, therapists, and breast cancer survivors. In day-to-day clinical practice, NADA appears to be a safe, effective intervention for women who do not wish to use pharmacological means to control their HFNS (hot flashes/night sweats).

Download PDF • 865KB

This trial was specifically studying these symptoms in breast cancer survivors however it could be possible that this would create a similar impact for menopausal women.


Safety of acupuncture in oncology: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

This systematic review of 65 studies (totalling 4943 participants), found that acupuncture for cancer patients was safe. And in case you missed it above, I wrote a blog post about acupuncture supporting cancer patients here.

acupuncture was not associated with an increased risk of intervention-related adverse events (AEs), nonserious AEs, serious AEs, or dropout because of AEs compared with sham acupuncture and an active control.


Acupuncture for low back and/or pelvic pain during pregnancy: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

Acupuncture for lower back pain in pregnant women
Acupuncture for lower back pain in pregnant women

In this systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials of 1040 women, they found that acupuncture significantly improved pain, functional status and quality of life in women with lower back pain during pregnancy.

They also found that acupuncture had no observable severe adverse influences on the baby.


Underlying mechanisms of acupuncture therapy on polycystic ovary syndrome: Evidence from animal and clinical studies

Unsurprisingly if you have gotten this far you will know I have a blog post about acupuncture for lots of things! This includes acupuncture for polycystic ovary syndrome. Here is my blog post here.

This picture shows hyperandrogenemia which plays a vital role in the pathogenesis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

In this study from October 2022, they review the mechanism and data for acupuncture for PCOS.

They found that:

a large number of clinical studies have confirmed that acupuncture could improve many symptoms in patients with PCOS. These symptoms include chronic and continuous anovulation, hyperandrogenemia, insulin resistance, negative emotion, glucose and lipid metabolism dysfunction, etc.
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