The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Comparing electroacupuncture and manual acupuncture

    David Mayor is the editor of the book, Electroacupuncture: A Practical Manual and Resource. In The Journal of Chinese Medicine he reviews electroacupuncture and its use to treat peripheral facial paralysis.

    I found his comparison between acupuncture and electroacupuncture instructive.

    Here are the differences.

    Manual acupuncture

    • Needle manipulation is brief and intermittent
    • Only “low frequency” is possible (twirling or lifting-thrusting)
    • Strong manipulation risks tissue damage


    • Stimulation continues for the duration of treatment
    • No limitation on frequency of stimulus (frequency-specific effects occur)
    • Strength of stimulation only limited by patient tolerance

    Advantages of electroacupuncture vs manual acupuncture

    • More effective in some situations, and often potentiates the effects of traditional methods, particularly when strong, continued stimulation is required, as when treating paralysis or some forms of pain
    • Can be less time consuming and demanding of the practitioner in training and practice
    • Results may in some cases be more rapid and longer lasting
    • May have specific effects on pain, relaxation, circulation, and muscle that differ from manual acupuncture
    • More readily controlled, standardized, and objectively measurable
    • Non-invasive stimulation methods can be cost effective for home treatments, perhaps between sessions with a practitioner, although some forms of treatment require supervision
    • Permits stronger, more continuous stimulation with less tissue damage

    6/19/07 18:54 JR

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