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acupuncture/herbal medicine/shiatsu

World Health Organization Conditions Treated

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends acupuncture because evidence-based research has shown effectiveness for treating the following conditions:

  • Adverse reactions to radiotherapy/chemotherapy

  • Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)

  • Biliary colic

  • Depression (including depressive neurosis and
    depression following stroke)

  • Dysentery, acute bacillary

  • Dysmenorrhoea, primary

  • Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute
    and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)

  • Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)

  • Headache

  • Hypertension, essential

  • Hypotension, primary

  • Induction of labour

  • Knee pain

  • Leukopenia

  • Low back pain

  • Malposition of fetus, correction of

  • Morning sickness

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Neck pain

  • Pain in dentistry (including dental pain
    and temporomandibular dysfunction)

  • Periarthritis of shoulder

  • Postoperative pain

  • Renal colic

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Sciatica

  • Sprain

  • Stroke

  • Tennis elbow

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WHO states that therapeutic effect has been shown, but additional evidence is needed regarding the use of acupuncture to treat the following conditions:

  • Abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to gastrointestinal spasm)

  • Acne vulgaris

  • Alcohol dependence and detoxification

  • Bell’s palsy

  • Bronchial asthma

  • Cancer pain

  • Cardiac neurosis

  • Cholecystitis, chronic, with acute exacerbation

  • Cholelithiasis

  • Competition stress syndrome

  • Craniocerebral injury, closed

  • Diabetes mellitus, non-insulin-dependent

  • Earache

  • Epidemic haemorrhagic fever

  • Epistaxis, simple (without generalised or local disease)

  • Eye pain due to subconjunctival injection

  • Female infertility

  • Facial spasm

  • Female urethral syndrome

  • Fibromyalgia and fasciitis

  • Gastrokinetic disturbance

  • Gouty arthritis

  • Hepatitis B virus carrier status

  • Herpes zoster (human (alpha) herpes virus 3)

  • Hyperlipaemia

  • Hypo-ovarianism

  • Insomnia

  • Labour pain

  • Lactation, deficiency

  • Male sexual dysfunction, non-organic

  • Ménière disease

  • Neuralgia, post-herpetic

  • Neurodermatitis

  • Obesity

  • Opium, cocaine and heroin dependence

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Pain due to endoscopic examination

  • Pain in thromboangiitis obliterans

  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (Stein–Leventhal syndrome)

  • Postextubation in children

  • Postoperative convalescence

  • Premenstrual syndrome

  • Prostatitis, chronic

  • Pruritus

  • Radicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome

  • Raynaud syndrome, primary

  • Recurrent lower urinary-tract infection

  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy

  • Retention of urine, traumatic

  • Schizophrenia

  • Sialism, drug-induced

  • Sjögren syndrome

  • Sore throat (including tonsillitis)

  • Spine pain, acute

  • Stiff neck

  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction

  • Tietze syndrome

  • Tobacco dependence

  • Tourette syndrome

  • Ulcerative colitis, chronic

  • Urolithiasis

  • Vascular dementia

  • Whooping cough (pertussis)

Individual randomized controlled trials show evidence acupuncture's effectiveness to treat the following conditions. 

  • Chloasma

  • Choroidopathy, central serous

  • Colour blindness

  • Deafness

  • Hypophrenia

  • Irritable colon syndrome

  • Neuropathic bladder due to spinal cord injury

  • Pulmonary heart disease, chronic

  • Small airway obstruction

The Acupuncture Evidence Project

The Acupuncture Evidence Project was published by the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2017. The authors of this project performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of the evidence supporting acupuncture to treat pain conditions. One hundred and twenty two conditions were reviewed. Evidence of effect was found for 117 conditions. No evidence of effect was found for five conditions. Level of “evidence of effect” increased for 24 conditions over time. Positive acupuncture treatment effects were found for migraine prophylaxis, headache, chronic low back pain, allergic rhinitis, knee osteoarthritis, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, post-operative nausea and vomiting, post-operative pain. Cost-effectiveness was identified for 10 conditions: allergic rhinitis, ambulatory anesthesia, chronic pain, depression, dysmenorrhea, headache, low back pain, migraine, neck pain, osteoarthritis, and post-operative nausea and vomiting. Evidence of safety was identified for acupuncture in general prior to this review, as well as nine conditions: allergic rhinitis, ambulatory anesthesia, Alzheimer's disease, cancer-related psychological symptoms, depression, low back pain, migraine, knee osteoarthritis, and prostatitis pain/chronic pelvic pain syndrome.

McDonald J, Janz S. The acupuncture evidence project: A comparative literature review. Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association. January 2017. 

The Evidence Map of Acupuncture

The evidence map of acupuncture was published in 2104 by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The authors of this publication reported the results of a systematic review and meta-analysis of the evidence supporting acupuncture to treat pain conditions found in randomized controlled trials published in English. Their goals were to create an evidence map providing a visual overview of the evidence distribution for acupuncture (what is known and where there is little or no evidence base) and to create executive summaries to assist stakeholders interpretations of the acupuncture evidence base to inform policy and clinical decision making. One thousand two hundred twenty three (1,223) studies were electronically located; 183 of these met inclusion criteria (65 for pain, 44 for wellness, 20 for mental health, and 49 for “other”). The authors found strong evidence of a positive effect from acupuncture for headaches, chronic pain, and migraines. They found potential positive effects for dysmenorrhea, osteoarthritis, general pain, cancer pain, labor pain, prostatitis, temporomandibular pain, plantar heel pain, pregnancy pain, and ankle sprain. They found unclear, but high-level, evidence for back and neck pain, as well as unclear evidence for surgery analgesia, post-operative pain, fibromyalgia, shoulder pain, and rheumatoid arthritis. No evidence was found for effectiveness with carpal tunnel. Compared with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acupuncture more effectively relieved acute low back pain in 5 studies; risk ratio, 1.11; 95% confidence interval: 1.06, 1.16). Acupuncture was also more effective than sham acupuncture for pain relief (2 studies; mean difference, -9.38; 95% confidence interval: -17.00, -1.76), but was not more effective for function/disability.

Hempel S, Shekelle PG, Taylor SL, Solloway MR. The evidence map of acupuncture. Department of Veterans Affairs VA-ESP Project #05-226. January 2014.

The world as I'd like it to be?

More unified, more equitable,

more generous, and

less materialistic.
-Barack Obama

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