Status of Acupuncture Research

NCCAM, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has been responsible for grants to investigate acupuncture’s benefits. Universities and private clinics have been conducting research on the validity of the many anecdotal claims. They have studied acupuncture’s value for a wide range of conditions.

NIH’s statement on early research, prior to 1997, said that results were hard to interpret because of problems with the size and design of the studies.

In the years since, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has funded extensive research to advance scientific understanding of acupuncture. Some recent NCCAM-supported studies have looked at important questions:

1. Whether acupuncture is effective for specific health conditions such as chronic low-back pain, headache, and osteoarthritis of the knee.

2. How acupuncture might work physiologically, such as what happens in the brain during an acupuncture treatment.

3. Ways to better identify and understand the potential neurological properties of meridians and acupuncture points.

4. Methods and instruments for improving the quality of acupuncture research.

These are important and fascinating questions to be researched. I will keep my eyes open for results on any and all of the topics.

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