General improvements in health status have been observed in conjunction with acupuncture treatment. General improvement in health status is consistent with models of the physiologic basis of acupuncture that indicate therapeutic effects through a wide range of mechanisms and body systems.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF ACUPUNCTURE?
Evidence from Modern Outcome Studies
General improvements in health status have been observed in conjunction with acupuncture treatment. For example, a study of 762 patients who received 6 acupuncture treatments in an outpatient setting showed significant improvements in 7 of 8 outcome measures (General health, Bodily pain, Vitality, Social functioning, Mental health, and Roles-physical and -emotional ) compared with a no-treatment control group.
General improvement in health status is consistent with models of the physiologic basis of acupuncture that indicate therapeutic effects through a wide range of mechanisms and body systems. The ability of acupuncture to regulate sympathetic/parasympathetic imbalances and promote immune function may account for its general clinical benefits.
The full potential of acupuncture and its supplementary Chinese medical modalities is to bring about more harmonious functioning and general well-being. As patients heal during acupuncture treatment, they often describe profound feelings of peace, clarity, and self-awareness. With repeated treatment, this sense of harmonious well-being may become increasingly the norm experienced by the patient.
Roles of Acupuncture in Modern Health Care:
The extensive history of clinical usage and excellent safety record of acupuncture make it a reasonable complementary treatment for most diseases and conditions. Acupuncture has few known contraindications, and is not reported to interfere with other treatments. It may be safely used to complement and enhance other treatments, and reduce adverse effects of other treatments.
For some conditions, conventional treatments may be contraindicated or deemed undesirable because of unfavorable risk : benefit ratios. Patients' prior medical history and experience may also suggest that they are not likely to respond well to certain conventional therapies. In these cases, acupuncture is a reasonable alternative. Acupuncture may be considered a conservative treatment, not only for those conditions where its efficacy has been proved, but also where the efficacy, safety, or appropriateness or other therapies is in doubt.
Increasingly, acupuncture is being practiced in integrative medical settings in conjunction with conventional therapies. Acupuncture may be used to reduce post-surgical pain and swelling, and increase range-of-motion. Acupuncture lowers the need for analgesics, thus reducing risks of adverse drug effects. The NIH report states: "One of the advantages of acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions."