Acupuncture and the emerging evidence base: contrived controversy and rational debate

J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2012 Aug;5(4):141-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jams.2012.05.001. Epub 2012 Jun 2.


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.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / adverse effects
  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Animals
  • Chronic Disease / therapy*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods*
  • Humans
  • Treatment Outcome