Clinical Evidence of Acupuncture and Surrounding Issues
Tim H. Tanaka, Ph.D.
The Pacific Wellness Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Dept. Acupuncture Moxibustion, Tsukuba University of Technology, Japan
Updated January 18, 2011
Introduction: Acupuncture Clinical Evidence
The term “evidence-based medicine” (EBM) first appeared in a paper in 1992. 1 In the late 1990s, EBM had emerged as the premier method of teaching and practicing medicine. EBM promotes the use of up-to-date “best” scientific evidence from healthcare research as the basis for making medical decisions. As acupuncture has been getting widely practiced not only in private clinics but also in many University hospitals, there has been a strong demand for scientific evidence to defend its safety and efficacy. Those calling for this testing point to the fact that stringent testing is required for the determining safety and efficacy of acupuncture. Under the EBM concept, high quality evidence means evidence derived from randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews.2
Over the past two thousand years, acupuncture has been used to treat a wide variety of illnesses.3 Technical skills and knowledge of acupuncture have been handed down from generation to generation, forming an empirical based medicine. Essential clinical information may be contained in such expert opinion, however the history of medicine, both conventional and alternative, has shown that such opinion can be unreliable or in some cases, completely wrong. There are so many theories, techniques, and protocols existing in acupuncture fields. It is time to re-visit all available information and filter down quality evidence that is meaningful in clinical practice for the benefit of patients.