acupuncture therapy

6 Science-Based Benefits of Acupuncture Therapy

Research shows acupuncture therapy can be an effective alternative treatment for everything from headaches to obesity.

6 Science-Based Benefits of Acupuncture Therapy

A few needles could help your chronic pain melt away.

Has your doctor ever prescribed you a round of acupuncture? Probably not. Alternative treatments often get short shrift in standard healthcare because doctors are generally unaware of the science showing that they really are effective alternatives to drugs and medication. But a new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine may (hopefully) change that.

The researchers pooled data from nearly 18,000 people who had participated in studies examining the effectiveness of acupuncture and found that, yes, it really is a good treatment for chronic pain and that doctors should start recommending it as treatment for arthritis and other chronic ailments.

Chronic pain is certainly one of the most common reasons people seek out acupuncturists, but here are six other scientifically studied ways that acupuncture therapy can alleviate what's bothering you:

#1: Eases your aching back. Using acupuncture therapy to successfully relieve chronic back pain is well documented in scientific literature, and acupuncturists say that it's the leading reason that people visit their clinics. A study published in May's issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine even found that people who were given "simulated acupuncture," where pressure was place on certain acupuncture points but no needles were actually used, saw as much as a 15 percent greater improvement in their symptoms (equal to the improvements seen in people who were receiving true acupuncture) than people who were taking medications and undergoing standard chiropractic care.

#2: Boosts the effectiveness of pharmaceuticals. A study from China, published in the August issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that a low-dose of fluoxetine (Prozac) combined with acupuncture therapy was just as effective at reducing anxiety in patients being treated for depression as full-dose medication. Cutting the dose and adding acupuncture also reduced the drug's side effects, which can include nausea, weight gain, and a decreased sex drive.

#3: Soothes the burning in your stomach. This June, Brazilian researchers published research finding that acupuncture therapy alleviated heartburn and indigestion in pregnant women. One group of pregnant women was given a combination of acupuncture and medications, and another group was counseled on dietary changes and given medications if needed. Over the course of the study, 75 percent of the women in the acupuncture group saw heartburn intensity, and antacid use, decline, while only 44 percent of women in the standard-treatment group saw those same effects.


Published on: September 2, 2009

More from our Authors

This breakthrough information links the little-known connection between diabetes, fatigue, heart disease, weight gain, high blood pressure, and more! Click here to learn more.


I sustain the alternative health programs and I think acupuncture therapy is the most trustworthy from different points of view. We don't know really how it works but I would sustain a professional study to tell us: it is more a Placebo or it really can help. I tried to induce an idea to my brother to introduce acupuncture in some of the drug rehab centers Los Angeles where he works as a doctor but he was very skeptical and told me that doctors won't try acupuncture just because they don't know how it really works and they can't use something without knowing the mechanism, the effects, the side effects etc.


I am happy when reading your blog with updated information! thanks alot and hope that you will post more site that are related to this site. Concrete Blocks

Very Nice Post !

Commenting is a great idea to bring traffic. I like to mix comments on both well known and no so well known blogs. Popular blogs have the potential to bring a lot of traffic through the comment, but your comment might stand out more on less popular blogs. Online Veterinary Programs


I'll take the sugar pills, but I'm also considering toothpicks.

Placebo effect. Nothing more.


I agree with Rob, but I /might/ consider toothpicks. ;-)

It's nothing more than the placebo effect.

Acupunture to stop smoking?

I'm surprised this was not covered in the article? I have heard of much success, many people who work with me! Die-hard smokers who NEVER EVER thought they'd quit, but they have with acupunture! One session and they never touched a cigarette again!

Re: acupuncture

Those awful westerners who insist on things like "testable evidence" instead of anecdote.

Please note, I'm not saying it doesn't work, I'm just saying it doesn't work better than a placebo. You shouldn't knock placebos, there is a huge amount of data that suggests they are seriously one of the most effective treatments out there.

Moreover, the points being made in the comments were about the awful evidence presented. Most of the studies either argued against any benefit beyond the placebo or were horribly flawed and this article misrepresented them as something they are not. There may well be other scientific studies performed in a transparent fashion with few flaws that show acupuncture to have great health benefits. However, none of them were presented here.

Finally, there are many things that are literally thousands of years old that have lasted in spite of being really quite bad for you. Take a look at organized religion for starters.


20 years ago I was suffering from tendonitis in my right shoulder. Got so painful I could no longer sleep. My doctor had tried pain killers, valium, you name it the gamet of meds. A friend suggested acupuncture. I went there skeptically, did not tell the acupuncturist why I was there. He did his unusual exam and told my my right shoulder was in need of treatment. 4 acupuncture treatments later - no pain. Has never returned and is fully functional today. I was always "overheating". So much so that in our WI winters I would go out and do chores in my shorts and parka. Went to the acupuncturist had a "balancing" session or two and low and behold - my thermostat was back in order like it was years before. An occasional "balancing" has been a good thing for me. One more story if you please. My husband had a crown put in. Whenever he would chew, he felt pain. Dentist tried grinding, did x-rays and said there was absolutely nothing wrong with the tooth/crown. After 7 months of this annoyance, hubby went to same acupuncturist. 2 treatments later pain was gone - never came back - never had any problems with that tooth again. That was in the early 90's. Does it always work - no and a good acupuncturist will be the first to tell you that. Acupuncture is literally thousands of years old - could it really last if it weren't any good!!!!! How naive uninformed we of the West can be sometimes.

Oh dear

I don't mean to be a prick (no pun intended), but this article is full of holes (again, no pun intended).

Salt-water injections have been shown to be more effective than sugar pills as a placebo and I'm sure the ceremony and mumbo-jumbo of acupuncture nicely beats salt-water as an effective placebo but I was really hoping there would be some evidence in your various points (again, no pun intended) that would warrant the headline. Let's go through them.

1. You get just as great improvement with simulated acupuncture as you do with real acupuncture? This suggests that acupuncture itself is purely a placebo, how can this be a science-based benefit?

2. Cutting the dose and adding acupuncture also reduced side effects? (headslap). I wonder how much of this was down to acupuncture and how much of the reduced side effects was down to the, you know, reduced amount of drugs in the system. If this were a scientific trial, it was a laughable one.

3. Talk about a dodgy test. One group was put on medication and acupuncture and the other was ONLY GIVEN MEDICATION WHEN NEEDED? So the group that is on medication to stop heart burn experienced a drop in heartburn, whereas the group that were only given medication when they experienced heartburn etc had more symptoms. What a surprise!

4. This clearly states that acupuncture only changes perception and thus is a placebo. Once again, this is not a science-based benefit of acupuncture.

5. Placebo effect. Certainly no useful science here. Next!

6. A small compilation of admittedly flawed studies say there is a tiny amount of evidence that sticking needles in your body was more effective than say eating less and exercising. My god, I wish the evidence in my tax fraud case had been this thin.

Rodale, I love you like family but this kind of article does not make me trust you as an authoritative news source. You are better than this.


I prefer sugar pills.

Less pointy

Start Your Wellness Journey!
Sign up for updates on Rodale Wellness and get your FREE wellness journal to help you find your path to vibrant health. Click here to start your unique journey!

Free Newsletter
Sign up for our FREE newsletters to stay up to date on all of our wellness news.

  The Daily Fix
Useful news and practical tips to help you live a healthy life on a healthier planet.

  Wellness in Action
Find your path to vibrant health, and get your free wellness journal as our thanks!

You may unsubscribe at any time.

Your Privacy Rights. About Us.