The rising incidence of chronic disease and stress-related illness in the West, coupled with an expanding awareness of the unwanted side effects of pharmaceutical treatment, has led to an increased utilization of acupuncture as a contemporary health care option. This increase in utilization, in turn, has paralleled a response to the call for evidence, with the result that acupuncture is now supported by a broad range of surveys of safety, clinical trials and basic science studies of physiologic action. The combined impact of these studies is linked to a growing acceptance of this traditional medical practice. The present review takes a wide-angle look at these three major areas of acupuncture research, namely: safety and the risks of serious adverse events; clinical efficacy and effectiveness; and physiologic action. We identify advances in knowledge and present a point counterpoint approach to controversial issues, with the aim of offering clarification if not a measure of resolution.
Copyright © 2012. Published by Elsevier B.V.