Role of acupuncture in the treatment of insulin resistance: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2019 Nov:37:11-22. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2019.08.002. Epub 2019 Aug 5.


Background: and purpose Acupuncture has gained increasing attention in the treatment of insulin resistance (IR). This study systematically reviews the efficacy of acupuncture on clinical IR outcomes.

Methods: Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Embase, Medline (via OVID), China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), Wan Fang and China Science and Technology Journal Database (VIP) were searched to collect randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of patients with IR treated by acupuncture. Meta-analysis was performed by RevMan 5.3.

Results: With acupuncture, the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (homa-IR) significantly decreased (mean difference (MD) = -1.04, 95% confidence interval (CI) -1.37 to -0.71; P < 0.00001), as did fasting blood glucose (FBG) (MD = -0.56, 95% CI -0.88 to -0.25; P = 0.0005), 2 h postprandial blood glucose (2hPG) (MD = -0.91, 95% CI -1.62 to -0.20; P = 0.01), and fasting insulin (FINS) (MD = -3.23, 95% CI -4.14 to -2; P < 0.00001). Meanwhile, the insulin sensitivity index (ISI) (MD = 0.36, 95% CI 0.18 to 0.53; P < 0.0001) increased, and fewer adverse events occurred.

Conclusion: Acupuncture may improve homa-IR, ISI, FBG, 2hPG and FINS with fewer adverse events than other treatments, making it a viable treatment for IR.

Keywords: Acupuncture; Insulin resistance; meta-Analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin