Acupuncture adverse events in China: a glimpse of historical and contextual aspects

J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Oct;19(10):845-50. doi: 10.1089/acm.2012.0639. Epub 2013 Apr 1.


The article by He and colleagues, "Adverse Events Following Acupuncture: A Systematic Review of the Chinese Literature for the Years 1956-2010" is an important and timely contribution. In this commentary, the article is reviewed and issues are highlighted about how to interpret and contextualize the results of their study. While their review has been well performed, certain areas have been identified where the results may be inaccurate due to problems in the reporting of original incidents. For example, potential problems were found in the reporting of the minor adverse event (AE) of fainting and the more serious AEs of pneumothorax and hepatitis. The article by He and colleagues highlights the issue that almost all AEs associated with acupuncture in the modern period are due to the administration of the therapy rather than the therapy itself. Future prospective studies can address some of the shortcomings identified in this review.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Humans