Acupuncture for anxiety

Research suggests that between one to 30% of the global population suffers from some form of anxiety.  Some surveys of recent research conclude that acupuncture is an effective treatment (1).

In 2017, The Acupuncture Evidence Project, co-authored by Dr John McDonald, PhD and Dr Stephen Janz, was published, providing an up-to-date comparative review of the clinical and scientific evidence for acupuncture. (2)

This comprehensive document, updating two previous reviews, determined that acupuncture is moderately effective in treating anxiety according to high level evidence. (3) Their evidence included a 2016 systematic review with over 400 randomised patients which concluded that ‘the effects from acupuncture for treating anxiety have been shown to be significant as compared to conventional treatments’. (4) The largest of these studies, which included 120 randomised patients, found that acupuncture had a large effect on reducing anxiety and depression compared to conventional treatment involving pharmacological approaches and psychotherapy, with over twice the reduction in symptoms. (5)

A more recent systematic review published in 2018 found that all 13 included studies ‘reported an anxiety decrease for their treatment group relative to the control groups’. Three of these studies used pharmaceuticals as controls. (6)

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.

Another source of information on research into acupuncture – its mechanisms and its effects – is here

If you’d like to know more, and find out how acupuncture might benefit you, please give me a call, send a text or email.  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. 


  1. Baxter AJ, Scott KM, Vos T, Whiteford HA. Global prevalence of anxiety disorders: a systematic review and meta-regression. Psychological Medicine. 2013; 43:897-910
  2. McDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review. Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd. 2017
  3. Bazzan AJ, Zabrecky G, Monti DA, Newberg AB. Current evidence regarding the management of mood and anxiety disorders using complementary and alternative medicine. Expert Rev Neurother. 2014;14:411- 23
  4. Goyata SL, Avelino CC, Santos SV, Souza Junior DI, Gurgel MD, Terra FS. Effects from acupuncture in treating anxiety: integrative review. Rev Bras Enferm. 2016 Jun;69(3):602-9
  5. Arvidsdotter T, Marklund B, & Taft C (2013). Effects of an integrative treatment, therapeutic acupuncture and conventional treatment in alleviating psychological distress in primary care patients–a pragmatic randomized controlled trial. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 13(1), 308
  6. Amorim D, Amado J, Brito I, Fiuza, SM, Clinical, NATI (2018) (nd). Acupuncture and electroacupuncture for anxiety disorders: A systematic review of the clinical research. Elsevier.