Many in modern medicine believe that acupuncture’s benefits, if there are any are entirely related to the Placebo effect-the minds effect on the body.  Belief that a treatment is effective makes it effective.  The truth of the matter is that, the placebo effect impacts every treatment-including drugs and surgery. It is our belief in the benefit of the treatment and our anticipation of improvement, regardless of the presence of a therapeutic therapy that causes the measurable physiological improvements.

A recent review of acupuncture research studies conducted in the England. A systematic review of acupuncture for the most commonly occurring forms of chronic pain (back, knee and head) between 2003 and 2008 were analyzed.

The results showed for short-term results, acupuncture demonstrated significant superiority over sham (fake) acupuncture for back pain, knee pain, and headaches.  For longer outcomes (6 to 12 months), acupuncture was significant more effective for knee pain and tension headaches, and was inconsistent for chronic back pain (one positive, one inconclusive).

The accumulating evidence from recent reviews suggest that acupuncture is more than a placebo for common occurring chronic pain conditions.  If this conclusion is correct, then we ask the question: is it now time to shift research priorities from asking placebo-related questions, and shift toward asking more practical questions about whether the overall benefit is meaningful and cost-effective?

Since acupuncture has been used in the Chinese tradition for over 5,000 years, that’s a powerful indication of its effectiveness. Also, it’s been over 35 years since President Nixon’s trip to China and the introduction of Chinese medicine to the US.