The National Institutes of Health conducted an extensive review of the scientific evidence for acupuncture in 1997. After a thorough review of the literature available at that time, a panel of experts analyzed the evidence. Their primary focus was on studies of the biological basis of acupuncture and its efficacy based on data from randomized, controlled clinical trials. According to the panel, there is clear evidence of the following biological effects of acupuncture:
- release of endorphins
- substances that inhibit pain
- regulation of endocrine function
- increased circulation
- enhanced immune function.
As the panel noted, acupuncture has been in widespread use around the world for more than 2000 years, and is enjoying explosive growth in the US. In acupuncture offices where it is used every day, clinical evidence continues to accumulate in support of acupuncture’s efficacy for chronic conditions that benefit from controlling pain and inflammation, enhancing circulation, endocrine and immune function, and reducing stress. In addition to the scientific studies, this clinical evidence is very valuable. When ample clinical evidence is supported by some research data, the NIH suggests that acupuncture may be a reasonable treatment option. (NIH p. 9)
In a further comment on the comparison between acupuncture and conventional medicine, the panel praised acupuncture for its demonstrated lack of side effects. “One of the advantages of acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions. (NIH p.9)
In conclusion, the expert panel found evidence to suggest that acupuncture has much to offer our contemporary medical system. Regarding the future of acupuncture, we hope that it will be allowed to fulfill its promise by being fully integrated with the conventional healthcare system.
“There is sufficient evidence of acupuncture’s value to expand its use into conventional medicine and to encourage further studies of its physiology and clinical value.” (NIH p.19)
Acupuncture provides pain relief for many kinds of chronic pain. Back pain, headache, and whiplash from car accidents respond well to acupuncture treatment. Sprains or strains from sports injuries can be treated. Acupuncture reduces the pain of repetitive stress injury, which affects many people working with keyboards or musical instruments. Painful migraines, cluster headaches, and tension headaches can be treated with acupuncture. Painful joints from arthritis can be greatly relieved.
Symptoms of stress also respond very well to acupuncture care. Anxiety, depression, and insomnia are relieved, providing support for people going through a hard time, or anyone suffering from a busy life. The deep state of relaxation you experience during treatment begins to relieve anxiety and stress from the very first session.