Acupuncture/ pressure

Sham acupuncture vs true acupuncture

According to reviewers at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California, “The theoretical basis for traditional acupuncture practice needs to be re-evaluated.”

First, the details.

  • A review was conducted of studies that used sham acupuncture with needle insertion at wrong points (points not indicated for the condition) or non-points (locations that are not known acupuncture points).
  • 38 studies were identified.

And, the results.

  • 58% of the studies found no statistically significant difference in outcomes.
  • And most of these (59%) found that sham acupuncture may be as effective as true acupuncture, especially when superficial needling was applied to non-points.

The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “The findings cast doubt on the validity of traditional acupuncture theories about point locations and indications. Scientific rationales for acupuncture trials are needed to define valid controls.”

Well, this might help.

Work to standardize acupoints was completed recently and lead to publication of the WHO Standard Acupuncture Point Locations in the Western Pacific Region (WHO Standard) was released earlier this year.

Dr. Sabina Kim from Kyung Hee University in Seoul, South Korea participated in developing the WHO standards and believes they will help acupuncture researchers conduct more standardized studies and report more accurate scientific information.

3/3/09 19:38 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.