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AACMA Project*

A study done by the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd (AACMA), found evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture for 117 conditions, with stronger evidence for acupuncture’s effectiveness for some conditions than others. Acupuncture is considered safe in the hands of a well-trained practitioner and has been found to be cost-effective for some conditions. The quality and quantity of research into acupuncture’s effectiveness is increasing.


Acupuncture originated in China and is now practiced throughout the world. Although acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years, evidence of its effectiveness is still controversial. The Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd (AACMA) identified the need for an updated review of the evidence with greater rigor than was possible in the past and commissioned The Acupuncture Evidence Project. We searched the literature with a focus on systematic reviews and meta-analyses (the highest form of evidence available). We sorted the evidence to identify which conditions acupuncture has been found to be most effective for. We also looked for evidence of acupuncture’s safety and cost-effectiveness, and we reported how the evidence for acupuncture’s effectiveness has changed over an eleven-year time-frame.

It is no longer possible to say that the effectiveness of acupuncture is because of the placebo effect, or that it is useful only for musculoskeletal pain.

Key results

Of the 122 conditions identified, strong evidence supported the effectiveness of acupuncture for 8 conditions, moderate evidence supported the use of acupuncture for a further 38 conditions, weak positive/unclear evidence supported the use of acupuncture for 71 conditions, and little or no evidence was found for the effectiveness of acupuncture for five conditions (meaning that further research is needed to clarify the effectiveness of acupuncture in these last two categories). In addition,research showed that acupuncture was cost effective for 10 conditions, and is safe in the hands of a well-trained practitioner. The level of evidence has increased over the 11-year period of this study for 24 conditions. Placebo-controlled clinicaltrials consistently underestimate the true effect size of acupuncture (which means that acupuncture is more effective than the type of trials used in this review show), yet they have still demonstrated National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Level I evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture for 117 conditions.

Summary of Findings

Summary of Findings 1:

The following tables summarize the effectiveness of acupuncture for various conditions.

Table 1. Conditions with strong evidence supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture

Reviews with consistent statistically significant positive effects and where authors have recommended the intervention. The quality of evidence is rated as moderate or high quality.

Allergic rhinitis (perennial & seasonal) Knee osteoarthritis
Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (with anti-emetics) Migraine prophylaxis
Chronic low back pain Postoperative nausea & vomiting
Headache (tension-type and chronic) Postoperative pain

Table 2. Conditions with moderate evidence supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture

Reviews reporting all individual randomised controlled trials (RCTs) or pooled effects across RCTs as positive, but the reviewers deeming the evidence insufficient to draw firm conclusions. The quality of evidence is rated as moderate or high quality.

Acute low back pain  Modulating sensory perception thresholds
Acute stroke Neck pain
Ambulatory anaesthesia Obesity
Anxiety Perimenopausal & postmenopausal insomnia
Aromatase-inhibitor-induced arthralgia Plantar heel pain
Asthma in adults Post-stroke insomnia
Back or pelvic pain during pregnancy Post-stroke shoulder pain
Cancer pain Post-stroke spasticity
Cancer-related fatigue Post-traumatic stress disorder
Constipation Prostatitis pain/chronic pelvic pain syndrome
Craniotomy anaesthesia Recovery after colorectal cancer resection
Depression (with antidepressants) Restless leg syndrome
Dry eye Schizophrenia (with antipsychotics)
Hypertension (with medication) Sciatica
Insomnia Shoulder impingement syndrome (early stage) (with exercise)
Irritable bowel syndrome Shoulder pain
Labour pain Smoking cessation (up to 3 months)
Lateral elbow pain Stroke rehabilitation
Menopausal hot flushes - Temporomandibular pain Temporomandibular pain

Table 3. Conditions with weak positive/unclear evidence supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture

Reviews consisted mostly of weak positive evidence or conflicting evidence between reviews or between authors within a review, with reviewers summarising the evidence as inconclusive. Reviews are of low or very low quality; or there is conflicting levels of evidence within or between reviews.

Acupuncture in Emergency Department Itch
Acute ankle sprain in adults Lumbar spinal stenosis
Alzheimer’s disease Melasma
Angina pectoris Meniere’s disease/syndrome
Assisted conception in ART Menopausal syndrome 
Asthma in children Multiple sclerosis
Atopic dermatitis Mumps in children
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Myelosuppression after chemotherapy
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) Oocyte retrieval pain relief
Bell’s palsy Opiate addiction
Bladder pain syndrome Opioid detoxification
Cancer-related insomnia Parkinson’s disease
Cancer-related psychological symptoms Polycystic ovarian syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome  Poor sperm quality
Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy Postnatal depression
Chronic fatigue syndrome Postoperative gastroparesis syndrome (PGS)
Chronic kidney disease Postoperative ileus
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) Post-stroke hiccoughs
Chronic urinary retention due to spinal cord injury Premenstrual syndrome
Chronic urticaria Primary ovarian insufficiency
Dysmenorrhoea Primary Sjogren’s syndrome
Dyspepsia in diabetic gastroparesis (DGP) Psoriasis vulgaris
Erectile dysfunction Rheumatoid arthritis Slowing progression of myopia
Exercise performance & post-exercise recovery Spinal cord injury
Fatigue in systemic lupus erythematosus Stress urinary incontinence in adults
Fibromyalgia Sudden sensorineural hearing loss
Functional dyspepsia Surgery analgesia
Gag reflex in dentistry Tinnitus
Glaucoma Traumatic brain injury
Heart failure Urinary incontinence
Hot flushes in breast cancer Uterine fibroids
Hyperemesis gravidarum Vascular cognitive impairment without dementia -   
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy in neonates -  Vascular dementia
Induction of labour Whiplash associated disorder (WAD)
Inflammatory bowel disease Xerostomia in cancer

Table 4. Conditions with little or no evidence supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture

Reviews have consistently found little support for acupuncture. The quality of the evidence is consistently low or very low. Further research required.

Alcohol dependence Nausea in pregnancy
Cocaine addiction Smoking cessation (more than 6 months)

Summary of Findings 2

Conditions with evidence of cost-effectiveness.

Table 5. Conditions with evidence of cost effectiveness

Allergic Rhinitis Low back pain
Ambulatory Anaesthesia Migraine
Chronic Pain Neck Pain (plus usual medical care)
Depression Osteoarthritis
Dysmenorrhoea Post-operative nausea and vomiting

Summary of Findings 3

Conditions with evidence of safety

Table 6. Conditions with evidence of safety

Condition Comments
Acupuncture generally prior to this review Acupuncture can be considered inherently safe in the hands of well-trained practitioners.
Allergic Rhinitis Safe and cost-effective
Ambulatory Anaesthesia Acupuncture safe, cost-effective and effective as an adjunctive therapy.
Alzheimers disease Acupuncture is Safe.
Cancer-related psychological symptoms Strong evidence for safety.
Depression Strong evidence for safety.
Low back pain Safe and well tolerated. Effective and safe for major depressive disorder. 
Migraine Moderate to high quality evidence Cost effective. Promise in safety and effectiveness. Serious adverse events were not reported in any trial. 
Osteoarthritis of the Knee Promise in safety and effectiveness. 
Prostatitis pain/chronic pelvic pain syndrome Acupuncture superior to both sham and to usual care and safe. 

Summary of Findings 4

Changes in evidence levels over the eleven-year period covered by this review

Table 7. Statistical summary of findings of this review

Evidence Level Number of Conditions Changes in Level of Evidence Number of Conditions
Strong Evidence of effect 8 Increase to strong evidence 5
Moderate Evidence effect 38 Increase to moderate evidence 18
Unclear/mixed evidence  71  Increase to weak positive/unclear evidence  1
Little of no evidence of effect  Decreased evidence level  2
Total conditions with some evidence of effect (any level)   117 - -
Total conditions reviewed  122  Total increases in evidence level since prior reviews  24

Benefits of Acupuncture & Asian Medicine

Acupuncture and the Respiratory System*

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Snoring
  • Sinusitis
  • Tonsillitis
  • Bronchitis
  • Common Cold
  • Flu
  • Cough
  • Hiccups
  • Rhinitis

Acupuncture for Emotional Problems*

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Tension

Acupuncture for Musculo-skeletal Pain*

  • Muscle cramping and stiffness
  • Arthritis/joint pain
  • Sciatica
  • Disc problems
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Sprains and strains
  • Sports injuries
  • Tendonitis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Bruising easily

Acupuncture for Urological Problems*

  • Bladder/Kidney problems
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Sexual dysfunction


Acupuncture for Gastrointestinal Problems*

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Indigestion
  • Abdominal pain

Acupuncture for Gynecological Problems*

  • Irregular or painful menses
  • Excessive bleeding and duration of menses
  • PMS
  • Infertility
  • Menopausal discomfort
  • Women's health

Acupuncture for Neurological Problems*

  • Dizziness
  • Headache/ migraines
  • Paralysis/ numbness
  • Stroke prevention and recovery
  • Neuralgia
  • Post operative pain
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease

Acupuncture for Cardiovascular Problems*

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Palpitations

Acupuncture for Dermatology*

  • Acne
  • Wrinkle reduction
  • Varicose veins
  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Eczema
  • Skin dryness
  • Excessive bruising
  • Psoriasis


Acupuncture, Diet and Nutrition*

  • Improve diet
  • Weight loss
  • Reduced stress
  • Diet for anti-acne

Acupuncture and Addictions*

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco
  • Drugs
  • Food

Acupuncture for Eyes, Ears, and Dental Problems*

  • Blurred Vision
  • Ringing in ears
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Eye Twitches
  • Drooping eye lids
  • Stye
  • Toothache
  • TMJ
  • Painful and bleeding gums
  • Post extraction pain
  • Uveitis

Acupuncture for Wellness*

  • Increase energy level
  • Improve quality of sleep
  • Increase ability to relax
  • Increase ability to focus and concentrate
  • Increase memory
  • Boost immune system
  • Enhance physical performance
  • Enhance the creative process
*Although we make strong efforts to make sure our information is accurate, Family Acupuncture Clinic cannot guarantee that all the information on this website and or blog is always correct, complete, or up-to-date. Please read our disclaimer for more information.

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  • Mon, Tue, Thu, & Fri
    9:00 AM – 12:30 PM &
    1:30 PM - 6:00 PM (Mon & Fri)
    1:30 PM - 7:00 PM (Tue & Thu)

  • Wed Open in Anaheim
    9:00 AM – 12:30 PM &
    1:30 PM - 6:00 PM
    (Torrance Closed)

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    9:00 AM – 12:30 PM &
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