Acupuncture: research and reviewing the evidence


Acupuncture originated in China approximately 2,500 years ago. and is one of the longest established forms of healthcare in the world. 

It’s now  practised across the globe, often used alongside conventional medicine in hospitals in many countries,  including the UK, USA, Germany and Israel.

Acupuncture is increasingly included in both private and government insurance schemes around the world and is recognised by UNESCO as an ‘intangible cultural heritage of humanity’.

In addition to thousands of years of patient case studies from acupuncture practitioners in China, Japan and Korea, there’s an impressive, and growing, evidence base of modern and current scientific research from researchers worldwide . For example, there are now over 13,000 clinical trials of acupuncture registered in the Cochrane Database, the leading journal and database for systematic reviews in health care.  

There are also several hundred systematic reviews showing evidence at varying levels for the effectiveness of acupuncture. Systematic reviews provide an overview of controlled studies on a particular condition, using a fixed set of guidelines for assessing the quality of the evidence.

To help patients understand more about acupuncture and this considerable body of research, my professional body produces fact sheets providing accurate and unbiased general information for a variety of conditions. Go to the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) Evidence A-Z page to read summaries of research and how acupuncture may be beneficial. 

There’s general information there on how research is carried out, while each fact sheet on a specific condition has three sections:

Summary: a summary of the currently available evidence

Commentary: assessment of the acupuncture and placebo interventions used in key clinical trials

Evidence: results of systematic reviews and clinical trials

The BAcC is currently undertaking a major review to update and broaden the information provided in on the Evidence A-Z pages and individual fact sheets. 

If you’d like to know more, and find out how acupuncture might benefit you, please get in touch.  Acupuncture is a holistic therapy with the focus on the well-being of you as an individual, rather than an isolated complaint. You are more than the sum total of your symptoms! I’m always happy to answer questions and discuss any concerns an on an informal basis by phone, email or zoom.