Acupuncture DOES work – but it’s benefits are all in the mind, says study

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 3:27 PM on 21st January 2009

Acupuncture has been found to prevent headaches and migraines but the benefits of the technique are mostly in the mind, according to researchers.

They found faked treatments when needles were inserted away from traditional pressure points appeared to work nearly as well as the proper procedure.


Those who had needles incorrectly inserted benefited nearly as much as those who had proper acupuncture

Study author Klaus Linde, who led the analysis said: ‘Much of the clinical benefit of acupuncture might be due to non-specific needling effects and powerful placebo effects, meaning selection of specific needle points may be less important than many practitioners have traditionally argued.’

Acupressure and acupuncture are based on the theory of lines of energy running through the body. With acupressure, a fingertip or a bead is used to press a specific pressure point, while needles are used in acupuncture.

Several studies have shown both treatments may stimulate the release of hormones known as endorphins, which can relieve stress, pain and nausea.

Mr Linde, a complementary medicine researcher at the Technical University in Munich led two reviews of the technique. They included 33 studies of nearly 7,000 men and women to see whether the technique was effective at preventing headaches and migraines.

Overall, they found that over eight weeks people treated with acupuncture suffered fewer headaches compared to men and women given only pain killers.

When it came to migraines, the needles beat drugs but faked treatments worked too, the researchers said. For less severe headaches, acupuncture worked just slightly better than sticking the needles randomly, the researchers said.

‘Doctors need to know how long improvements associated with acupuncture will last and whether better trained acupuncturists really achieve better results than those with basic training only,’ Mr Linde said.

The findings have been published in the Cochrane Review journal.

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