Acupuncture – Does it work? Read some of the evidence here


Have you ever used Acupuncture?

Did it work?  Tell us your view in the comments section below?

Acupuncture is a treatment derived from ancient Chinese medicine in which fine needles are inserted at certain sites in the body for therapeutic or preventative purposes.

It is often seen as a form of complementary or alternative medicine (CAM), although it is used in many NHS general practices, as well as the majority of pain clinics and hospices in the UK.


Western medical acupuncture is the use of acupuncture after a proper medical diagnosis. It is based on scientific evidence that shows the treatment can stimulate nerves under the skin and in muscle tissue.

This results in the body producing pain-relieving substances, such as endorphins. It is likely these substances are responsible for any beneficial effects seen with this form of acupuncture.

Traditional acupuncture is based on the belief that an energy, or “life force”, flows through the body in channels called meridians. This life force is known as Qi (pronounced “chee”).

Practitioners who adhere to traditional beliefs about acupuncture believe that when Qi does not flow freely through the body, this can cause illness. They also believe acupuncture can restore the flow of Qi, and so restore health.

Read more about what happens during acupuncture.

What is it used for?

Acupuncture practitioners – sometimes called acupuncturists – use acupuncture to treat a wide range of health conditions.

It is often used to treat pain conditions such as headache, lower back pain and osteoarthritis, but is also sometimes used in an attempt to help people with conditions ranging from infertility to anxiety and asthma.

Acupuncture is occasionally available on the NHS, although access is limited. Most acupuncture patients pay for private treatment.

Read more about the common uses of acupuncture.

Does it work?

Currently, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) only recommends considering acupuncture as a treatment option for chronic lower back pain, chronic tension-type headaches and migraines. NICE makes these recommendations on the basis of scientific evidence.

There is also some evidence that acupuncture works for a small number of other problems, including neck pain and post-chemotherapy nausea and vomiting.

Acupuncture is sometimes used for a variety of other conditions as well, but the evidence is not conclusive for many of these uses.

Read more about the evidence for and against acupuncture.

Having acupuncture

When it is carried out by a qualified practitioner, acupuncture is generally very safe. Some people experience side effects such as feeling drowsy or dizzy, but these are usually mild and short-lived.

If you choose to have acupuncture, make sure your acupuncture practitioner is either a regulated healthcare professional or a member of a recognised national acupuncture organisation.

Read more about acupuncture safety and regulation.

[Original article on NHS Choices website]

Evidence for and against acupuncuture

There is some scientific evidence acupuncture has a beneficial effect for a number of health conditions.

However, there is less clear scientific evidence about the benefits of acupuncture in the majority of conditions it is often used for.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) only recommends considering acupuncture as a treatment option for chronic lower back pain, chronic tension-type headaches and migraine.

Assessing the evidence

One of the best ways researchers can assess the evidence behind a particular treatment is by carrying out a systematic review. This is a “study of studies” that combines findings from separate but similar studies to come up with an overall conclusion.

Systematic reviews are an important part of health research because they can identify findings that might otherwise be missed in individual studies. They can also help distinguish the effects of treatment from the effects of chance.

It is important to remember that when we use a treatment and feel better, this can be because of a phenomenon called the placebo effect and not because of the treatment itself. Systematic reviews can help reduce the potential influence of the placebo effect.

While systematic reviews cannot always determine conclusively whether a treatment does or does not work, they can be useful in assessing how a particular treatment (such as acupuncture) compares to another (such as “sham” acupuncture or medication).

However, even this can be challenging – both acupuncture and placebo treatments can stimulate the release of natural painkilling substances called endorphins, which can make it difficult to distinguish between them.

What evidence is there for acupuncture?

One of the largest and most respected organisations that carries out and publishes systematic reviews into the effectiveness of medical treatments is The Cochrane Collaboration.

A number of systematic reviews into the effectiveness of acupuncture have been published by The Cochrane Collaboration, and the basic results are summarised below.

Some positive evidence

Systematic reviews carried out by The Cochrane Collaboration have found there is some evidence acupuncture may have a beneficial effect on the following conditions:

However, because of disagreements over the way acupuncture trials should be carried out and over what their results mean, the existence of some positive evidence does not mean acupuncture definitely works for these conditions.

In many cases, the evidence appears contradictory. For example, some high-quality studies may suggest acupuncture is no better than “sham” acupuncture, whereas some lower-quality studies may suggest acupuncture is better than an established medical treatment.

The issue is sometimes also further complicated by the fact some “sham interventions” include active needling and are therefore not true placebos.

In addition, it can be difficult to make sure the patients involved in acupuncture studies are unaware of the specific treatment they are receiving (known as “blinding”).

This is because it is obvious whether you are receiving a conventional medical treatment such as medication or if you are receiving acupuncture, for example. This is a problem as it means the preconceptions of the person being treated may influence the result.

Some systematic reviews, however, have demonstrated the effects of acupuncture over sham treatment in studies where patients are unaware whether they are having real acupuncture or sham treatment.

For example, one large meta-analysis (a type of systematic review) not carried out by The Cochrane Collaboration included data from more than 17,000 patients. It compared acupuncture to sham acupuncture or no acupuncture without patients being aware of whether they had received real or sham treatment.

This review found acupuncture to be superior to both sham and no treatment for headaches, osteoarthritis, back pain and neck pain.

Little or no evidence

In many conditions where acupuncture is used, there is not enough good quality evidence to draw any clear conclusions over its relative effectiveness compared with other treatments.

For example, systematic reviews published by The Cochrane Collaboration have suggested more research is needed to assess whether acupuncture is effective for: asthmaglaucomaschizophreniadepressionshoulder, painelbow, painrheumatoid arthritisBell’s palsyrestless legs syndromeinsomnia vascular ,dementiastroke, stroke rehabilitation and swallowing problems caused by stroke

More research is needed to establish whether acupuncture is better or worse than best standard treatments for these conditions.

More information and research

If you want to find out more about studies into acupuncture, you can search for high-quality research using the NHS Evidence and Cochrane Library websites.

A third will Skip the Flu Jab leaving millions at risk

Health and an aging population
Health and an aging population
New research reveals that over half the population of UK adults either aren’t planning to get the jab this winter or are unsure which could leave millions unprotected. Many turn the jab down because they incorrectly believe it would make them sick or that it would have zero impact on their health but the illness can have a very serious impact on vulnerable people.

Flu jab coverage isn’t as high as it should be, with 1 in 10 still unsure whether they are eligible for the free flu jab this year, and 13% of the nation who are eligible for the jab saying they are not planning on getting it.

In total, over half (58%) of UK adults either aren’t planning to get the jab this winter or are unsure. This could leave millions unprotected, particularly those who are vulnerable.

You should have the flu vaccination every year so that you stay protected. The virus that causes flu can change every year, so this winter’s flu will be different from last year’s, and for some it can lead to very serious health complications causing 4,700 deaths in England each year.

Flu Expert and pharmacist Kajal Ruda was interviewed by PatientTalk.Org to find out more.

PatientTalk.Org – The first question is, what is the flu exactly and why are there so many different types?

Kajal Ruda – Ok, so the flu is a common infectious virus, it can be unpleasant and the symptoms can be managed, it’s a virus that’s spread through coughs and sneezes.

PatientTalk.Org – How does it differ from a common cold?

Kajal Ruda- Ok so the symptoms for cold and flu is very different, the flu symptoms come on quickly, usually include fever and aching limbs and muscles and make you feel really really unwell that you can’t actually get on with your day to day activities, so you can’t go to work, you can’t go to school or college, whereas with the cold these symptoms tend to come on quite gradually, mainly affect your nose and your throat and are fairly mild so you can still get around and you know go to work and do your usual day to day activities.

PatientTalk.Org – How is flu treated?

Kajal Ruda – Flu, the best way to basically treat flu is rest at home, drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration and keep warm and take maybe some over the counter medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen to keep your fever low.

PatientTalk.Org – What happens if it’s not treated?

Kajal Ruda – Some of the complications of flu could be things like a chest infection that can continue to develop into things like pneumonia which is sometimes what can happen with people living with long term conditions such as vulnerable people who have diabetes or (Celio PD?) or you know any of the long term conditions.

PatientTalk.Org – Can it cause other longer lasting conditions say if you had a chest infection could that turn into a bronchial infection which could later turn into asthma?

Kajal Ruda – No, that’s not how asthma actually is diagnosed, so what you said is right, yes if you do have flu and that turns into a chest infection, which is then not treated it can cause things like pneumonia which is another harmful condition that you can be hospitalised for.

PatientTalk.Org – What are flu jabs and how do they work?

Kajal Ruda Ok, so flu jabs are what you said is a flu vaccine, it’s an inactivated form of the virus which is put into a vaccination, when given to you what it does is the vaccine actually works by stimulating your body’s immune system so it makes some molecules which is antibodies, which when you’re then exposed to the flu virus, your body is protected, so its attacking the virus, so you don’t get flu.

PatientTalk.Org – Why have flu jabs had such negative press earlier this month?

Kajal Ruda It maybe because some people perceive the flu jab to actually give you flu. Now that’s not the case like I mentioned it’s an inactivated form of the virus so it can’t give you flu.

PatientTalk.Org – Would you recommend flu jabs and for whom should you recommend them to?

Kajal Ruda Well, anyone can have the flu jab, of any age, I’d recommend anyone to have it because anyone can get the flu. People that are at risk or are vulnerable such as your over 65 year olds, if you’re pregnant or you’re living with a long term medical condition such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease or you’ve got a weakened immune system then you should definitely have the flu jab because it could develop into further complications.

PatientTalk.Org – Finally is there such thing as ‘man flu’?

Kajal Ruda It’s just because of the way that the symptoms probably develop or the way that your body tends to respond to it, the flu whether it’s man flu or regular flu, you treat it the same way.

Conscious Crafties is a new craft website for anyone living with chronic illness, disability or caring for those affected – a guest post from Karen Thomas

Conscious Crafties
Conscious Crafties

Conscious Crafties is a craft buying and selling website for anyone living with chronic illness, disability or caring for those affected. It’s built by a Spoonie for Spoonies. My name is Karen and after becoming sick almost overnight, I found my way to various support networks. I noticed that many of us turn to crafts to help distract from our illnesses and to feel useful again. Some of us can’t work, but we still have lots to offer the world! Seeing so much untapped talent, I had the idea of a community for everyone to showcase their work, in one place and give people a way of creating their own business. It was also a way for me to feel useful again, by using my skills to help others. Using some techie magic, I help everyones crafts get found by buyers and also post on our various social networks so items get seen by hundreds.  The website and our Facebook page has only been live for just over 4 weeks and already, we have almost 1000 likes. I’m passionate this is going to be something wonderful to help so many of us.

Stories are told:

Each ‘Craftie’ gets to tell their story on the site, to spread awareness in our ‘Meet the Crafties‘ section.  They can also ‘Add Friends’ within our community and send each other messages.

Here’s my story:

In 2011 I was perfectly healthy going about my workaholic lifestyle when BOOM! – I started fainting up to 10 times a day and my bed became my best friend. A year later I was diagnosed with POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome) a rare condition affecting the blood vessels and heart rate. There’s no cure, but reaching out to others with the same condition has been a huge help in learning to live with it.  3 years later I was told my POTS was caused by EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) a connective tissue disorder affecting the skin, cartilage, ligaments & blood vessels – everything that holds us together! I also have some bonus conditions: fibromyalgiaraynaud’s diseasechronic pain syndrome,migraines and asthma. Life has been tough, but I’ve met some wonderfully strong friends who also live with chronic illnesses. Many have turned to craft to bring joy into their lives.  This incredible group of people are the worlds untapped talent.  Buying their beautiful handmade items (& mine!) will help to rebuild their lives.

How to get involved:

To join in the fun and start selling on, apply here:

Buy beautiful handmade gifts here:

Like us on Facebook:


Follow us on Twitter:

Bowen Awareness Week – What is Bowen Therapy and have you used it?

Bowen therapy
Bowen therapy
Over the years I have look at a whole range of therapies for various different medical conditions which don’t quite fit into the conventional medical model.

This have ranged from the Paleo diet for multiple sclerosis to the McKenzie Method® for back pain.

According to a press release from Bowen Therapy Professional Association “the Bowen Technique is a drug-free, non-invasive, hands-on therapy which can be administered through light clothing. It has a remarkable record of success in helping clients with a wide range of conditions, including back, neck, shoulder and other acute and chronic muscular pain; stress-related conditions including depression; asthma, hay fever and other respiratory problems; sports injuries, IBS, migraine, fertility, hormonal imbalance and a host of other health issues. It is suitable for people of all ages, from tiny babies with colic to mature clients who suffer from arthritis. There are many personal testimonies of Bowen working when nothing else has helped.

In a typical Bowen treatment, the therapist, using only thumbs and fingers, makes small rolling movements over muscles, tendons and soft tissue at precise points on the body. This subtle but dynamic process releases stress at a very deep level, allowing the body to re-align, address imbalances in functions and chemical composition and , as far as possible, restore homeostasis (physiological equilibrium) within the body. ”

You can check out their web site here

Now as you can see this is quite a list of different conditions which could be treated with Bowen therapy. It is also pretty diverse as well.

So why am I writing this blog. I’m very interesting in hearing if any of my readers have used it and how you have found it. Also if you are a Bowen therapist it would be great to hear what you do and how you do it.

Please feel free to use the comments box below to add anything you think might be of interest to our readers.

Many thanks in advance.

Respiratory Care Week- A week that honors respiratory therapists and promotes lung health.

COPD Awareness
COPD Awareness
Normally awareness weeks have the objective of helping people find out about various different medical conditions.

While of course Respiratory Care Week is about promote lung health. (It really is time to give up smoking!) It also honours the work of respiratory therapists!

Respiratory therapists are healthcare professionals who specialise in supporting patients with lung related conditions such as asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, COPD, cardiovascular disorders, and trauma.

You can find out more at the KU Medical Center website.

Because Respiratory therapists are rare in Europe it would be great if our American readers would share their experiences of being treated by these healthcare professionals.

Please use the comments section below to add your story.