Acupuncture/ pressureNCCAM

Future directions for acupuncture research

There’s an online newsletter, CAM at the NIH, posted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) that you might want to check out.

This issue lists priorities for future acupuncture research.

The list is the result from the annual meeting of the Society for Acupuncture Research, which was held in November 2007.

Dr. Richard Nahin who is Senior Advisor for Scientific Coordination and Outreach at NCCAM said, “The quality of [acupuncture] clinical trials has increased, as has the presence of acupuncturists — especially licensed acupuncturists — on NIH-funded research teams. Mechanistic studies and moderate-sized trials are laying the groundwork for more definitive phase III trials.”

Here is the state-of-the-art of acupuncture research:

  • The quantity and quality of studies have increased since 1997.
    • Some studies on acupuncture’s effectiveness have been positive, but most are mixed or inconclusive.
  • Some clinical trials found no difference between acupuncture and a placebo control (“sham”).
    • Overall there is greater benefit with acupuncture.
  • Basic-science studies show that acupuncture has a physiological basis.
    • However, more information on meridians and qi, and how the physiological response to acupuncture vs sham acupuncture differs are needed.

The bottom line?
The article observes, “We need agreement and consistency in … [the] approach to clinical trials, so that the results will be less diverse.” The recently published Standards for Reporting Intervention in Controlled Trials of Acupuncture (STRICTA) is a guide.”

More about the current status of STRICTA is here.

4/9/08 21:02 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.