A systemic review suggests that a course of at least six acupuncture treatments can be a valuable option for people with frequent tension-type headache. The international team included 12 trials with 2349 adults. The findings were that acupuncture, when added to pain-killers on headache onset resulted in a reduction of headache frequency of 50% or more for 48% of participants, compared with 17% of those who were given pain-killers only. When compared with sham treatment, headache frequency halved in 52% of participants receiving true acupuncture, compared with 43% of participants receiving sham. One large, high quality trial with about 400 participants showed that the effect of true acupuncture was still present six months post treatment.
Arthritis Research UK funded research which showed that acupuncture can make a difference in neck pain and disability even if the neck pain is really chronic with a duration of six years or more.
A meta-analysis in 2015 of thirteen papers by Chinese authors supports the use of acupuncture in allergic rhinitis (hay fever), concluding that it can exert a significant reduction in nasal symptom scores, medication use, and an increase in quality of life compared with controls.
120 patients in a randomised controlled trial were followed up six months after eight weeks of either integrative treatment (IT) and acupuncture or conventional treatment (CT) by a team of Swedish investigators. Acupuncture was delivered once a week for eight consecutive weeks. IT combined acupuncture with person-centred dialogue. At six months the IT and acupuncture groups showed significantly greater values that CT on anxiety, depression, and quality of life. The improvements remained stable at the six-month follow-up. BMC Complimentary & Alternative Medicine, June 2014.
A German study compared acupuncture treatment with anti-histamine drugs in people who are allergic to house dust mites. Twenty four patients were treated with either acupuncture or with the drug loratadine. The patients’ subjective assessments considered both treatments to be effective, but the good effects were assessed to last longer with acupuncture after the end of treatment.
A 2014 study in Menopause showed that acupuncture can reduce the intensity and frequency of hot flushes due to the menopause. The positive effect didn’t seem to be based on the duration or number of treatments, and it is immediate. “Real” acupuncture outperformed placebo acupuncture in reducing the hot flushes, but the frequency was reduced by both. The improvements lasted up to three months.
On the 24th September 2013 the University of York released a major randomised clinical trial published in PLOS Medicine comparing acupuncture, counselling and usual care for depression. The conclusion reached by the study was that acupuncture versus the usual care was associated with a significant reduction in the symptoms of depression.
90 patients with knee osteoarthritis so severe they needed surgery were given acupuncture weekly for a month, and then every six weeks. The improvements in pain and stiffness were so significant that not one needed surgery. This was reported in Acupuncture in Medicine in 2012.
An Arthritis Research UK study into the efficacy of complementary treatments has found consistent evidence that acupuncture is effective in easing some of the symptoms of osteoarthritis, low back pain, and fibromyalgia. More information on the Arthitis Research UK website.