That’s the conclusion by reviewers from the University of Hong Kong, Queen Mary Hospital in China in this Cochrane review.

First, the details.

  • To be included in the review a study had to compare acupuncture to another treatment or assess adding acupuncture to ongoing treatment.
  • 11 small studies of 914 participants were selected.

And, the results.

  • Combining the results of 4 studies of acupuncture vs a control group revealed no difference between groups.
  • In children treated with needle acupuncture plus Chinese herbs 2 studies reported a reduction in seizure frequency (75%) and seizure duration (50%) vs Chinese herbs alone.
  • Compared to phenytoin (Dilantin), combining the results from 2 studies showed that patients treated with needle acupuncture were more likely to have a 75% reduction in seizure frequency.
  • Compared to valproate (Depacon), combining the results from 3 studies showed that patients treated with catgut implantation at acupoints were more likely to have a 75% or greater reduction in seizure frequency.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “The current evidence does not support acupuncture as a treatment for epilepsy.”

Interesting, considering all the positive results when compared to drug therapy. The key to their skepticism is due to the poor study design characterized by “generally poor methodological quality and … short follow up.”

10/13/08 10:38 JR

Hi, I’m JR

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.