Researchers find acupuncture effective for the alleviation of tinnitus. This is significant given the intractability associated with this disorder. A research team in Sichuan, China, achieved significant positive patient outcomes by employing the use of electrical stimulation to acupuncture points. Compared with conventional manual acupuncture therapy, the addition of electroacupuncture to the treatment protocol increased clinical effectiveness for the treatment of tinnitus by 25.1%. Conventional manual acupuncture achieved a 64.5% total effective rate; however, electroacupuncture achieved an 89.6% total effective rate.
The Sichuan research team cited prior research and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory as the basis for the development of their electroacupuncture clinical protocol. Zhang et al. identified acupuncture point Tinggong (SI19) as an important area for the treatment of tinnitus in prior research. The Sichuan researchers included SI19 in the study because the work of Zhang et al. finds SI19 effective for benefitting the ears, reducing tinnitus, improving conduction in the auditory nerves, and because electroacupuncture creates rhythmic contractions of the muscles in the region of the ear to promote circulation and subsequent delivery of nutrients to the hearing system.
Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome. Researchers find acupuncture effective for normalizing hormone levels and improving the overall health of patients with polycystic ovarian syndrome. Scientific data demonstrates that acupuncture produces significant improvements in menstrual regularity, restores ovulation pattern regularity, increases pregnancy rates, regulates hormonal secretions, normalizes basal body temperature patterns, and increases embryo survival rates. Fertility enhancements provided by acupuncture apply to both natural conception and IVF (in vitro fertilization) patients.
Research published in the Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion entitled Advances In Clinical Research On Acupuncture Moxibustion Treatment For Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome cites several clinical studies. Let’s take a look at the finings. Chen et al. applied stimulation with acupuncture at sacral plexus acupoints and paraspinal acupoints. Acupuncture treatment sessions were regularly administered over the course of three menstruation cycles. Upon completion of all acupuncture therapy, follow-up examinations (including ultrasound imaging) demonstrated significant improvements in menstrual regularity, ovulation frequency, and cervical mucus consistency. In addition, the pregnancy rate of patients in the study increased significantly.
Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine researchers find acupuncture effective for the treatment of insomnia. Results were obtained by implementing a protocolized acupuncture point prescription combined with moxibustion and TDP heat lamp therapy. After one week of therapy, acupuncture with moxa and TDP produced a 67.5% total effective rate for the relief of insomnia. After two weeks, the total effective rate increased to 77.5%.
The researchers compared results with another treatment group receiving Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal therapy. Participants in the herbal medicine group received of modified version of Gui Pi Tang or An Shen Ding Zhi Tang, dependent upon differential diagnostics. The herbal medicine group achieved a 32.5% total effective rate after one week. After two weeks, the herbal medicine group had a 52.5% total effective rate.
Acupuncture plus herbal medicine regulates heart beats and improves patient outcomes for patients taking drugs. Researchers from the Tianjing University of Chinese Medicine tested the efficacy of combining acupuncture and herbs with drug therapy. The addition of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) therapies increased positive patient outcomes by 28% for patients with tachycardia, arrhythmias, and palpitations.
The researchers tested the drug metoprolol tartrate (brand name Lopressor) in combination with acupuncture and herbs. Drug therapy, as a standalone treatment, produced a 64% total effective rate. Adding acupuncture and herbs to the treatment regimen increased the total efficactive rate to 92%.
Researchers find acupuncture effective for increasing bone strength and preventing bone loss. In a laboratory investigation, electroacupuncture significantly enhanced outcomes by increasing the efficacy of physical therapy procedures. The application of electroacupuncture significantly improved bone density and strength when engaging in load-bearing exercises and treadmill running exercises. Based on the results of the study, the researchers conclude that acupuncture significantly increases bone strength and density, stimulates peripheral nerve repair, and increases the effectiveness of physical therapy procedures.
Researchers at Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri), in association Heilongjiang University (Harbin, China), find electroacupuncture with load-bearing exercise is effective for increasing bone mass density (BMD) and bone strength after sciatic nerve injury. Their laboratory tests, conducted on rabbits, also show that levels of the neuropeptide Substance P (SP) were increased in correlation with bone health by application of electroacupuncture. This study shows that damage to the peripheral nervous system (PNS) can have a detrimental effect on bone health, and that electroacupuncture at Huatuojiaji (Jiaji) points enhance the effects of load-bearing exercise for the improvement of bone health and peripheral innervation.
The American College of Physicians formally recommends acupuncture for the treatment of back pain. Published in the prestigious Annals of Internal Medicine, clinical guidelines were developed by the American College of Physicians (ACP) to present recommendations based on evidence. Citing quality evidence in modern research, the ACP notes that nonpharmacologic treatment with acupuncture for the treatment of chronic low back pain is recommended. The official grade by the ACP is a “strong recommendation.” 
A major goal of the recommendation is for acupuncture and other nonpharmacological therapies to replace drug therapy as a primary source of pain relief. Treatment with opioids is only recommended, with an official “weak recommendation,” when other modalities do not provide adequate relief. A strong recommendation is also made by the American College of Physicians for the treatment of both acute and subacute lower back pain with heat, massage, acupuncture, and spinal manipulation.  The recommendations were approved by the ACP Board of Regents and involves evidence based recommendations from doctors at the Penn Health System (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center (Minnesota), and the Yale School of Medicine (New Haven, Connecticut).
Researchers confirm that acupuncture is more effective than two drugs (ibuprofen and diclofenac) for long-term relief of knee osteoarthritis pain, inflammation, and motor impairment. In one investigation, acupuncture plus herbal medicine outperformed acupuncture plus ibuprofen for pain relief. In another independent investigation, acupuncture outperformed diclofenac for relief of pain, inflammation, and motor impairment due to knee osteoarthritis. Let’s take a look at both investigations.
Acupuncture plus herbs outperforms ibuprofen for the alleviation of knee pain, inflammation, and dysfunction. Guangxi Lingshan County Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine researchers investigated the benefits of drugs, electroacupuncture, and herbal medicine for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. The results of the randomized-controlled clinical trial finds acupuncture plus herbs more effective than the ibuprofen (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) plus acupuncture protocol.
Acupuncture benefits memory, learning, and the brain in an Alzheimer’s disease study. In a controlled experiment, researchers discovered two important clinical benefits provided by stimulation of scalp acupuncture points; acupuncture improves spatial learning and memory. Additionally, the researchers discovered that acupuncture improves brain glucose metabolism. Let’s take a look at the results.
Researchers at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine demonstrate that electroacupuncture improves spatial memory and learning in mice with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).  To test electroacupuncture’s effectiveness for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and its related upregulation of glucose metabolism in the hippocampus, the researchers chose three scalp acupuncture points. All three acupoints affect the Governing Vessel (Du Mai), an acupuncture channel traditionally used to nourish the spine and brain in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  The findings were published by Cao et al. in the Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience journal.
Researchers find acupuncture equally effective for the treatment of hypertension as the drug nifedipine, a pharmaceutical medication used for the treatment of high blood pressure and angina. Nifedipine is a calcium channel blocker that relaxes the heart muscles and blood vessels. Researchers at the Jiaozuo Tongren Hospital compared the effects of acupuncture therapy with the administration of nifedipine for the immediate reduction of high blood pressure levels in patients with primary hypertension. In the Jiaozuo Tongren Hospital randomized-controlled clinical trial, both acupuncture and nifedipine successfully reduced blood pressure by 30 – 40 mmHg. 
The researchers determined that acupuncture and nifedipine provided different advantages for the management of hypertension. Data points measured immediate and short-term benefits of both therapies. At the 5, 10, 15, and 20 minute data points after treatment, nifedipine produced lower systolic and diastolic blood pressures. However, at the 30 and 60 minute data points after treatment, there was no statistical difference between the effects of acupuncture and nifedipine for both systolic and diastolic blood pressure management.
Researchers find acupuncture and herbs effective for improving acute appendicitis patient outcomes. An emergency medical condition often requiring an appendectomy, acute appendicitis may alternately be treated with drug therapy under controlled conditions in a hospital setting. Fujian University hospital researchers combined acupuncture and herbs with standard drug therapy. The addition of acupuncture and herbs to the drug therapy treatment protocol increased the total effective rate by 23.69%. In addition, adverse affects due to medical intervention dropped to 7.89% from 28.95% with the addition of acupuncture and herbs to the treatment protocol. Based on the data, the researchers conclude that the addition of acupuncture and herbs to drug therapy is safe, effective, and reduces iatrogenic complications for patients with acute appendicitis. 
Patients receiving only drug therapy had a 71.05% total treatment effective rate. However, that number improves to a 94.74% total treatment effective rate when acupuncture and herbs are added to the treatment protocol. Drug therapy produced 17 patients that were completely cured and 10 patients improved significantly. The study group receiving drug therapy plus acupuncture and herbs had a total of 29 patients that were completely cured and 7 patients significantly improved.
Researchers find acupuncture combined with clomiphene more effective than clomiphene plus supplementary hormonal pharmaceuticals for the treatment of infertility. The combination of acupuncture plus clomiphene produces significantly higher pregnancy rates for women with anovulatory infertility than clomiphene plus estradiol cypionate and dydrogesterone. The data was published in the report entitled Effects of Acupuncture on the Endometrium in Anovulatory Cases Treated by Clomiphene: A Clinical Observation.
The addition of acupuncture to clomiphene therapy increased pregnancy rates, lowered the resistance and pulsatility indices of the uterine arteries, and reduced the adverse effects caused by clomiphene. The increase in positive patient outcomes combined with reductions of adverse effects supports the research team’s (Taian Maternal and Child Health Care Hospital) conclusion, “TCM [Traditional Chinese Medicine] can be either applied alone or combined with Western medicine to up pregnancy rates and treat infertility. With the help of TCM [i.e., acupuncture], treatment for infertility can be more effective while producing much less adverse effects.” 
Acupuncture successfully alleviates depression when combined with moxibustion. Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine researchers (Second Affiliated Hospital) determined that acupuncture plus moxibustion provides both short and long-term benefits for patients suffering from depression. The university researchers discovered that traditional manual acupuncture stimulation increases the rate of positive patient outcomes. When manual acupuncture techniques were used to elicit deqi at the acupoints, the total treatment efficacy rate significantly improved.
Deqi encompasses a specific set of sensations elicited by manual acupuncture stimulation. The researchers determined that achieving the arrival of deqi sensations produces superior patient outcomes for patients suffering from depression. In addition, true acupuncture was found effective and sham acupuncture did not produce significant positive patient outcomes. The sham controls eliminated concerns regarding the placebo effect and confirmed the validity of the true acupuncture results.
Acupuncture reduces inflammation and researchers have discovered how it works. In a laboratory controlled scientific investigation, a key biological marker has been identified, quantified, and directly correlated with the application of acupuncture. Acupuncture successfully downregulates a proinflammatory biochemical (tumor necrosis factor alpha), which results in anti-inflammatory responses. In addition, the researchers have mapped the neural pathways by which acupuncture signaling stimulates anti-inflammatory effects.
Researchers in Korea have identified a mechanism by which acupuncture stimulation at the acupoint ST36 (Zusanli) has an anti-inflammatory effect. By downregulating tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), acupuncture relieves systemic inflammation. By testing the effects that a splenic neurectomy and vagotomy have on TNF-α levels in the spleen and the brain, Lim et al. found that the anti-inflammatory effects of ST36 (Zusanli) rely on the vagus nerve pathway. Both manual acupuncture stimulation (MAC) and electroacupuncture (EAC) induce c-Fos protein generation. However, only manual acupuncture stimulation has the effect of downregulating TNF-α; electroacupuncture has the opposite effect when applied to ST36.
Acupuncture is found effective for the treatment of acute gout attacks. An important acupuncture technique was found particularly helpful in the reduction of pain and inflammation. In findings published in research entitled Clinical Observation on Treatment of Acute Gout With Acupuncture, the surround-acupuncture technique significantly boosted treatment efficacy for acute gout attack relief. The study demonstrates that acupuncture, especially the surround-needling technique, improves blood circulation and reduces inflammation.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles, acupuncture was found effective for the alleviation of dampness and heat during acute gout attacks. While seemingly archaic and mysterious, the terms dampness and heat have direct correlates in current biomedical semantics. Dampness refers to swelling and edema associated with gout, including uric acid crystal buildup in tissues. Heat is a broad term often referring to inflammation. The Latin terms defining the key components of inflammation (rubor, dolor, calor, tumor) date back to writings from Roman civilization and refer to redness, pain, heat, and swelling. In many ways, the terms dampness and heat are the ancient Chinese correlates of the Latin terminology for inflammation.
Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of acne. In a randomized-controlled study from the Beijing Daxing Hospital, it was determined that acupuncture produces significant improvements for acne patients. Acupuncture had a 94.17% total treatment efficacy rate for patients with acne. Conventional biomedicine, in the same study, had an 82.5% total treatment effective rate. Let’s start with a look at the research and then we’ll see how acupuncture treatments boost treatment efficacy rates for the treatment of acne.
Research from the Beijing Daxing Hospital documents that a specific acupuncture treatment protocol outperforms conventional drug therapy for the treatment of acne vulgaris. The results of this investigation indicate that acupuncture is safe and effective for the treatment of acne. The results are published in a paper entitled Efficacy of Acupuncture Treatment of Acne.
Researchers find a specialized acupuncture point prescription highly effective for the treatment of insomnia. Researchers at the China PLA Navy General Hospital determined that Wuhua foot acupuncture combined with body style acupuncture has a 95.24% total effective rate for the treatment of insomnia. Using shallow needling depths, the results were clinically significant. The researchers conclude that the foot Wuhua and body style acupuncture protocol is effective for the alleviate of sleep disturbances.
Wuhua foot acupuncture differs from standard foot acupuncture. In standard foot acupuncture, for example, three powerful and important acupoints for the treatment of insomnia are located on the bottom of the foot. One important point is located on the bottom of the foot at the midpoint between the medial and lateral malleoli. This acupoint is indicated for the treatment of neurasthenia, hysteria, insomnia, and low blood pressure. Its sedative effects are often remarkably effective. Another acupoint for the treatment of insomnia is located on the bottom of the foot, 5 units (cun) distal to the heel on the midline. This is complemented by a third acupoint that is located on the bottom of the foot, 5 units distal to the heel and 1 unit lateral to the midline.
Acupuncture enhances the efficacy of an experimental drug for the treatment of vascular dementia. Researchers compared the efficacy of a nootropic drug as a standalone therapy with a combination of the drug and scalp acupuncture. The results are definitive. The total effective rate for the nootropic drug is 73.3%; however, a combination of acupuncture and the drug produced a 93.3% total effective rate. 
MMSE (mini-mental state examination) and Katz ADL (Katz Index of Independence in Activities of Daily Living) scores improved by 20% when acupuncture was added to the treatment regimen. The MMSE measures memory and other cognitive abilities. The Katz ADL measures patient outcomes for bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, self control of urination and defecation, and eating.
Acupuncture is an effective treatment modality for the restoration of swallowing after a craniocerebral injury (CCI). Brain injuries may result in dysphagia, a disorder involving difficulty or discomfort when swallowing. Researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial and determined that acupuncture combined with neuromuscular electrical stimulation and rehabilitation exercises is an effective treatment protocol for the treatment of dysphagia after a CCI.
Wang et al. studied 90 patients with dysphagia caused by craniocerebral injuries. This included patients with several pathologies including traumatic brain injuries, cerebral infarctions, and cerebral hemorrhages. The participants were randomized into three groups. Group A was provided conventional rehabilitation exercises. Group B was given rehabilitation exercises plus neuromuscular electrical stimulation. Group C was given rehabilitation exercises, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, and acupuncture.
Acupuncture enhances brain activity for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers examined the effects of two acupuncture points on Alzheimer’s patients with the Siemens 3-Tesla MRI system. The large field of view, high speed, and high image quality of the MRI scanner ensures accuracy of the data. Neuropsychological and clinical examinations confirm the findings derived from the MRIs. Acupuncture restores activity in the hippocampus for Alzheimer’s disease patients.
The hippocampus is part of the brain’s limbic system and is responsible for short and long-term memory. Degradation of this region is found in Alzheimer’s disease patients. The research team used MRIs to document that Alzheimer’s disease patients exhibit diminished hippocampal connectivity in frontal and temporal areas during resting states. After completion of acupuncture treatments applied to acupoints LI4 (Hegu) and LV3 (Taichong), hippocampal connectivity increased.
Acupuncture benefits sleep, regulates hormone levels, and reduces symptoms associated with menopause. Taipei Medical University (Taiwan) researchers conclude that acupuncture reduces sleep disturbances associated with menopause. In addition, the researchers discovered that needling acupuncture point SP6 (Sanyinjiao) significantly increases estrogen levels. They add that acupuncture’s ability to reduce menopausal related symptoms, including benefitting sleep, is correlated with its ability to regulate endogenous estrogen levels. The findings were published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, a publication by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Taipei Medical University researchers analyzed 31 randomized controlled trials with a total patient size of 2,433 participants. The researches discovered a homeostatic regulatory effect of acupuncture on three hormones. The researchers conclude that acupuncture, for both perimenopause and postmenopause, significantly
- reduces sleep disturbances
- increases serum estradiol (estrogen)
- reduces serum follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
- reduces luteinizing hormone (LH)