If Acupuncture is useful, where is the evidence to support this?
One of the problems with Acupuncture research is that most medical research is done using a randomised control study. Unfortunately this type of study is not suited to complex interventions. Psychotherapy for instance is also a poor candidate for randomised control trials because it is not easy to identify the one single action that was used to create a change for the client.
The full paper is available to read at:
Although randomised control trials are difficult to use with acupuncture we do have some interesting research showing how the overall mechanism of acupuncture affects the body.
Research on single issues that are easily measurable can demonstrate the action of acupuncture and there are plenty of studies showing a positive effect:
Stem cell production increased using Acupuncture
Acupuncture has been successfully used to increase the number of stem cells produced by the body. This is exciting research that may eventually help to explain the healing effect in Acupuncture. Stem cells are ‘blank’ cells that go to damaged areas and repair them.
Electroacupuncture promotes CNS-dependent release of mesenchymal stem cells. Salazar, T.E., et al. (2017)
Acupuncture has been shown to affect hormone levels by promoting the release of beta-endorphin in the brain. This affects the release of gonadotrophin releasing hormone by the hypothalamus, follicle stimulating hormone from the pituitary gland, and oestrogen and progesterone levels from the ovaries (Ng 2008, Huang 2008, Lim 2010, Stener-Victorin 2010).
Blood flow to the ovaries
Acupuncture improves blood flow to the ovaries (Stener-Victorin 2006, Lim 2010), thus improving the environment for the ovarian follicles. It increases blood flow to the uterus (Stener-Victorin 1996, Huang 2008), improving the thickness of the endometrial lining to increase the chances of embryo implantation.
Treatments for PCOS
Acupuncture reduces the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, and has been shown to reduce the number of ovarian cysts, stimulate ovulation, enhance blastocyst implantation and be able to regulate menstrual cycles in women with PCOS (Stener-Victorin 2000, 2008, 2009, Zhang 2009). There is also evidence that acupuncture may assist with reducing secondary effects such as obesity and anorexia (Lim 2010).
Stener-Victorin E, Wu X. Effects and mechanisms of acupuncture in the reproductive system. Auton Neurosci. 2010 Mar 27.
Lim CE, Wong WS. Current evidence of acupuncture on polycystic ovarian syndrome. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2010 Mar 16.
Ng EH, So WS, Gao J, Wong YY, Ho PC. The role of acupuncture in the management of subfertility. Fertil Steril. 2008 Jul;90(1):1-13.
Huang ST, Chen AP. Traditional Chinese medicine and infertility. Curr Opin Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Jun;20(3):211-5.
Stener-Victorin E, Jedel E, MannerÃ¥s L. Acupuncture in polycystic ovary syndrome: current experimental and clinical evidence. J Neuroendocrinol. 2008 Mar;20(3):290-8.
Stener-Victorin E, Humaidan P. Use of acupuncture in female infertility and a summary of recent acupuncture studies related to embryo transfer. Acupunct Med. 2006 Dec;24(4):157-63.