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Are acupoints specific for diseases? A systematic review of the randomized controlled trials with sham acupuncture controls.

Zhang H, Bian Z, Lin Z - Chin Med (2010)

Bottom Line: This review aims to investigate whether a difference in efficacy exists between ordinary acupuncture on specific acupoints and sham acupuncture controls on non-acupoints or on irrelevant acupoints.The conditions treated varied.This review did not demonstrate the existence of acupoint specificity.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: School of Chinese Medicine, Faculty of Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong SAR, China.

ABSTRACT

Background: The results of many clinical trials and experimental studies regarding acupoint specificity are contradictory. This review aims to investigate whether a difference in efficacy exists between ordinary acupuncture on specific acupoints and sham acupuncture controls on non-acupoints or on irrelevant acupoints.

Methods: Databases including Medline, Embase, AMED and Chinese Biomedical Database were searched to identify randomized controlled trials published between 1998 and 2009 that compared traditional body acupuncture on acupoints with sham acupuncture controls on irrelevant acupoints or non-acupoints with the same needling depth. The Cochrane Collaboration's tool for assessing risk of bias was employed to address the quality of the included trials.

Results: Twelve acupuncture clinical trials with sham acupuncture controls were identified and included in the review. The conditions treated varied. Half of the included trials had positive results on the primary outcomes and demonstrated acupoint specificity. However, among those six trials (total sample size: 985) with low risk of bias, five trials (sample size: 940) showed no statistically significant difference between proper and sham acupuncture treatments.

Conclusion: This review did not demonstrate the existence of acupoint specificity. Further clinical trials with larger sample sizes, optimal acupuncture treatment protocols and appropriate sham acupuncture controls are required to resolve this important issue.

No MeSH data available.


Flow chart showing the retrieval process of clinical trial reports included in the systematic review.
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Figure 1: Flow chart showing the retrieval process of clinical trial reports included in the systematic review.

Mentions: The initial search generated a total of 380 articles from multiple databases, of which 245 articles were retained for screening after duplicates were removed (Figure 1). We screened the titles and abstracts of these articles and identified 83 eligible articles whose full texts were needed to retrieve for further evaluation. The full texts of 74 articles were available. Twelve articles, of which ten were in English [16-25], one in Chinese [26] and one in German [27], were included for qualitative analysis. Although the full text of the German language article was not available, its eligibility for inclusion was ensured according to the information in the abstract. The other trials were excluded mainly due to the following reasons: use of minimal sham acupuncture or noninvasive placebo acupuncture as controls; acupuncture treatment combined with electronic stimulation or other treatment approaches, such as acupoint massage or scalp acupuncture; and no random allocation.


Are acupoints specific for diseases? A systematic review of the randomized controlled trials with sham acupuncture controls.

Zhang H, Bian Z, Lin Z - Chin Med (2010)

Flow chart showing the retrieval process of clinical trial reports included in the systematic review.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2818640&req=5

Figure 1: Flow chart showing the retrieval process of clinical trial reports included in the systematic review.
Mentions: The initial search generated a total of 380 articles from multiple databases, of which 245 articles were retained for screening after duplicates were removed (Figure 1). We screened the titles and abstracts of these articles and identified 83 eligible articles whose full texts were needed to retrieve for further evaluation. The full texts of 74 articles were available. Twelve articles, of which ten were in English [16-25], one in Chinese [26] and one in German [27], were included for qualitative analysis. Although the full text of the German language article was not available, its eligibility for inclusion was ensured according to the information in the abstract. The other trials were excluded mainly due to the following reasons: use of minimal sham acupuncture or noninvasive placebo acupuncture as controls; acupuncture treatment combined with electronic stimulation or other treatment approaches, such as acupoint massage or scalp acupuncture; and no random allocation.

Bottom Line: This review aims to investigate whether a difference in efficacy exists between ordinary acupuncture on specific acupoints and sham acupuncture controls on non-acupoints or on irrelevant acupoints.The conditions treated varied.This review did not demonstrate the existence of acupoint specificity.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: School of Chinese Medicine, Faculty of Science, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong SAR, China.

ABSTRACT

Background: The results of many clinical trials and experimental studies regarding acupoint specificity are contradictory. This review aims to investigate whether a difference in efficacy exists between ordinary acupuncture on specific acupoints and sham acupuncture controls on non-acupoints or on irrelevant acupoints.

Methods: Databases including Medline, Embase, AMED and Chinese Biomedical Database were searched to identify randomized controlled trials published between 1998 and 2009 that compared traditional body acupuncture on acupoints with sham acupuncture controls on irrelevant acupoints or non-acupoints with the same needling depth. The Cochrane Collaboration's tool for assessing risk of bias was employed to address the quality of the included trials.

Results: Twelve acupuncture clinical trials with sham acupuncture controls were identified and included in the review. The conditions treated varied. Half of the included trials had positive results on the primary outcomes and demonstrated acupoint specificity. However, among those six trials (total sample size: 985) with low risk of bias, five trials (sample size: 940) showed no statistically significant difference between proper and sham acupuncture treatments.

Conclusion: This review did not demonstrate the existence of acupoint specificity. Further clinical trials with larger sample sizes, optimal acupuncture treatment protocols and appropriate sham acupuncture controls are required to resolve this important issue.

No MeSH data available.