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Acupuncture is an ancient therapy that involves stimulating points on the body called meridians with fine needles or by applying electric currents or heat.

Acupuncture originated in China over 2,000 years ago as part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). In TCM, it's believed that disease is caused by an imbalanced or blocked flow of energy. Acupuncture is thought to stimulate energy flow, unblock energy, and rebalance energy, which results in healing.

People most commonly use acupuncture for pain-related conditions, depression, nausea, and sleeping problems. It is also used for addictions, several mental disorders, movement disorders such as Parkinson disease and cerebral palsy, and many other purposes, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.

NatMed Pro rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
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  • Aromatase inhibitor-induced arthralgia.  Most research shows that acupuncture seems to reduce aromatase inhibitor-induced joint pain.
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  • Back pain.  Most research shows that acupuncture seems to reduce back pain more than no treatment. However, it is unclear if acupuncture is more effective than sham acupuncture. Receiving more than 5 treatments with deep acupuncture seems to offer the most long-term benefit.
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  • Cancer-related fatigue.  Low quality studies suggest that acupuncture may modestly improve symptoms in patients with cancer-related fatigue. Guidelines from multiple oncology associations include acupuncture and electroacupuncture as a potential treatment option for reducing post-cancer fatigue.
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  • Cancer-related pain.  Acupuncture is conditionally recommended by The National Comprehensive Cancer Network for cancer-related pain in certain patient populations and The Society for Integrative Oncology-American Society of Clinical Oncology guideline indicates that benefits of acupuncture outweigh harm. However, research is generally of low quality.
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  • Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV).  Most low-quality research shows that acupuncture reduces vomiting associated with chemotherapy when used with antiemetics. However, it is unclear whether acupuncture is beneficial for nausea associated with chemotherapy or whether acupuncture is more beneficial than sham acupuncture.
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  • Chronic prostatitis and chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS).  When used alone or in combination with traditional Chinese medicine or conventional treatments, most research suggests manual acupuncture or electroacupuncture is beneficial in patients with CP/CPPS.
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  • Depression.  Most research shows that acupuncture modestly reduces symptoms of depression when used alone or with conventional antidepressants.
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  • Dyspepsia.  Most research shows that acupuncture seems to reduce symptoms of dyspepsia.
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  • Fibromyalgia.  Most research shows that acupuncture seems to reduce pain and stiffness in patients with fibromyalgia.
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  • Insomnia.  Most research shows that manual acupuncture seems to improve sleep quality in patients with insomnia. It is unclear if electroacupuncture is beneficial.
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  • Labor pain.  Most research shows that acupuncture seems to reduce labor pain and the need for epidural analgesia.
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  • Migraine headache.  Most research shows that acupuncture seems to prevent migraine headaches. It is unclear if acupuncture is as effective as conventional prophylactic strategies or as a migraine treatment.
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  • Neck pain.  When used alone or in addition to routine treatment, most research shows that acupuncture seems to modestly reduce neck pain.
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  • Osteoarthritis.  Most research shows that acupuncture seems to reduce pain and improve function in patients with osteoarthritis. Acupuncture is conditionally recommended by The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) for any form of osteoarthritis.
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  • Postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV).  Most research shows that acupuncture, usually at the P6 acupoint, reduces PONV in adults and children.
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  • Tension headache.  Most research shows that acupuncture alleviates tension headache when compared with no treatment. However, it is unclear if acupuncture is more effective than sham treatment.
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Acupuncture is likely safe when given appropriately and with sterile needles. Side effects are uncommon but might include bruising and swelling. Inappropriate use of acupuncture needles can cause serious side effects including infections.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Traditional acupuncture with sterile needles is possibly safe when used appropriately when pregnant or breast-feeding. But there might be certain acupuncture points that should be avoided during pregnancy. Also, there isn't enough reliable information to know if electroacupuncture or laser acupuncture is safe when pregnant. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children. Acupuncture is possibly safe in children. It's been used in research without any serious side effects.

It is not known if this treatment interacts with any medicines. Before using this treatment, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

There are no known interactions with foods.

Many different styles of acupuncture exist, including traditional acupuncture, Western acupuncture, electroacupuncture, and laser acupuncture. The appropriate or safe use of acupuncture depends on several factors such as the condition being treated or the person administering the treatment. Be sure to seek and follow relevant directions from your physician or other healthcare professional before using this treatment.

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Information on this website is for informational use only and is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. While evidence-based, it is not guaranteed to be error-free and is not intended to meet any particular user’s needs or requirements or to cover all possible uses, safety concerns, interactions, outcomes, or adverse effects. Always check with your doctor or other medical professional before making healthcare decisions (including taking any medication) and do not delay or disregard seeking medical advice or treatment based on any information displayed on this website.

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