Evidence Based Medicine

Q & A

"Does acupuncture hurt?"

Sometimes you feel a little pinch and sometimes nothing at all. Most patients actually fall asleep on the table!

"How does acupuncture work?"

Acupuncture increases circulation in target areas by increasing nitric oxide and triggering the release of neuropeptides which results in vasodilation. This is known as the "Axon Reflex". Proper blood flow is essential to healing anything from the gut lining, to a sprained ankle, to chronic headaches, to a broken bone because circulation is the vehicle of oxygen delivery to all of our tissues.


Acupuncture reduces pain by interrupting redundant afferent pain signals providing temporary analgesia. This is the first step in eliminating the feedback loop of pain -> tension -> decreased circulation -> failure to heal -> pain.

Acupuncture is able to break up tight bands of spasmodic sarcomeres and connective tissue deep in the body known as trigger points.

Aside from increasing circulation, reducing pain and resolving trigger points, acupuncture works through neurohormonal pathways to stimulate endogenous endorphins, bring patients into a state of parasympathetic nervous system (rest, digest and reduce inflammation) and strengthens the immune system by stimulating T-cells & cytokines. 

The proof is in the pudding! Check out the Randomized Controlled Trials and Meta-Analysis collection below that demonstrates the efficacy of acupuncture as a resolute treatment for pain, anxiety, allergies, depression, insomnia, increased working productivity and much more. Simply copy the citation below and paste it into your search browser to enjoy reading these well founded studies on a variety of publications.

Here is a Systematic Review of seven Randomized Controlled Trials totaling 393 patients that demonstrates just how effective acupuncture is at treating osteoarthritis: 

1). Acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee: a systematic review. Ezzo J, Hadhazy V, Birch S, Lao L, Kaplan G, Hochberg M, Berman B. Arthritis Rheum. 2001 Apr; 44(4):819-25.

Here is a Randomized Controlled Trial demonstrating the efficacy of acupuncture in treating chronic shoulder pain in 424 patients:

1). German Randomized Acupuncture Trial for chronic shoulder pain (GRASP) - a pragmatic, controlled, patient-blinded, multi-centre trial in an outpatient care environment. Molsberger AF, Schneider T, Gotthardt H, Drabik A. Pain. 2010 Oct; 151(1):146-54. 

Here is a Randomized Controlled Trial that demonstrates the efficacy of acupuncture in treating allergic rhinitis (common allergies) in over 5,000 patients!

1). Acupuncture in patients with allergic rhinitis: a pragmatic randomized trial. Brinkhaus B, Witt CM, Jena S, Liecker B, Wegscheider K, Willich SN. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2008 Nov;101 (5):535-43. 

Here is a Meta-analysis demonstrating that acupuncture is equally effective in treating Major Depressive Disorder and superior in treating Post Stroke Depression when compared to antidepressants. Wow!!!

1). The effectiveness and safety of acupuncture therapy in depressive disorders: systematic review and meta-analysis. Zhang ZJ, Chen HY, Yip KC, Ng R, Wong VT. J Affect Disord. 2010 Jul; 124(1-2):9-21. 

Here is a Randomized Controlled Trial in which acupuncture shows to be an effective modality in the treatment of primary insomnia:

1). Curative effect of acupuncture and moxibustion on insomnia: a randomized clinical trial.  Gao X, Xu C,
Wang P, Ren S, Zhou Y, Yang X, Gao L. J Tradit Chin Med. 2013 Aug;33(4):428-32.

Here is a Randomized Controlled Trial demonstrating the efficacy of acupuncture as a treatment for anxiety!

1). Clinical effect of auricular acupuncture in anxiety levels of students prior to the exams: A randomized controlled trial. Vieria A, Hinzmann M, Silvia K, Santos M, Machado, J.