Looking for scientific evidence of the effectiveness of acupuncture for pain treatment? A recent article in The New York Times describes a long-term, well-constructed research project that bears out acupuncture's reputation for being an effective natural treatment for chronic pain, including pain related to migraines and arthritis.
Though acupuncture has been used throughout the world for thousands of years, questions about its effectiveness have sometimes limited its widespread acceptance. The people who've benefited from acupunture often swear that they've received true and long-lasting relief, but is their response merely psychological? The study detailed in the New York Times article Acupuncture Provides True Pain Relief in Study says the effects are real and lasting.
A new study of acupuncture — the most rigorous and detailed analysis of the treatment to date — found that it can ease migraines and arthritis and other forms of chronic pain.
The findings provide strong scientific support for an age-old therapy used by an estimated three million Americans each year. Though acupuncture has been studied for decades, the body of medical research on it has been mixed and mired to some extent by small and poor-quality studies. Financed by the National Institutes of Health and carried out over about half a decade, the new research was a detailed analysis of earlier research that involved data on nearly 18,000 patients.
The researchers, who published their results in Archives of Internal Medicine, found that acupuncture outperformed sham treatments and standard care when used by people suffering from osteoarthritis, migraines and chronic back, neck and shoulder pain.
“This has been a controversial subject for a long time,” said Dr. Andrew J. Vickers, attending research methodologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and the lead author of the study. “But when you try to answer the question the right way, as we did, you get very clear answers.
“We think there’s firm evidence supporting acupuncture for the treatment of chronic pain.”
The results of the study indicate that many people undergoing acupuncture treatments experience more than the placebo effect. For those suffering from chronic pain, this might not be The Answer, but acupuncture could be helpful as part of an overall pain-treatment strategy, particularly given that it is, as the Times article states, "relatively noninvasive and relatively safe."
K.C. Compton is senior editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, and formerly was Editor in Chief of our sister publications, The Herb Companion and GRIT. A huge fan of the food chain, from molecules to meals on the table, K.C. is passionate about the idea that most of what we need to be healthy can be found in the garden. Find her on Google+.