03 93789479 [email protected]

Acupuncture May Be a Stroke Defender in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

acupuncture on hands

Prepare for a groundbreaking revelation in the realm of healthcare! A recent study conducted in Taiwan has unveiled the extraordinary potential of acupuncture in reducing the risk of ischaemic strokes among individuals grappling with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).

Study Insights

Strategic Objective:

The primary aim of this study was to establish acupuncture as a preventive measure against ischaemic strokes for those combating RA.

Methodical Approach:

Researchers meticulously analyzed data from over 23,000 individuals newly diagnosed with RA, spanning the period from 1997 to 2010. The treasure trove of information was extracted from the National Health Insurance Research Database.

Key Finding:

The revelation is nothing short of extraordinary – individuals opting for acupuncture treatment showcased a significantly lower incidence of ischaemic strokes compared to their counterparts who did not opt for such therapy (log-rank test, p<0.001).

Statistical Snapshot:

Post a sophisticated matching process, the group availing acupuncture reported 341 stroke cases (5.95 per 1000 person-years), while the non-acupuncture group recorded 605 cases (12.4 per 1000 person-years). The adjusted Subhazard Ratio (SHR) underscored a noteworthy 0.57 (95% CI 0.50 to 0.65).

Universality of Impact:

Encouragingly, the positive influence of acupuncture extended across various demographic variables, including age, gender, and existing health conditions.

Implications and Future Exploration:

Significance Clarified:

By tapping into the expansive National Health Insurance Research Database, this study elevates acupuncture beyond pain management, positioning it as a formidable guardian against ischaemic strokes in RA patients.

On the Horizon:

The study not only beckons attention to the immediate benefits but also beckons further exploration. Could acupuncture emerge as a sustained ally for those navigating the complexities of RA in the long run? This opens avenues for redefining the management paradigm for this challenging arthritic condition.


This study marks a pivotal moment, transcending the conventional understanding of acupuncture. It stands as a testament to the potential synergy between traditional practices and modern healthcare, providing a new perspective on safeguarding individuals grappling with RA from the perils of debilitating strokes.

In the Limelight:

News outlets are ablaze with discussions surrounding this groundbreaking study, heralding a paradigm shift in healthcare dynamics. Acupuncture is poised not merely as a therapeutic technique but as a transformative force in reshaping the narrative of health management.


Acupuncture for preventing migraine attacks – research reviews

Acupuncture migraine researchBased on the available evidence, acupuncture can be a valuable option for individuals with migraines.


A review of 22 trials involving 4,985 people found that acupuncture reduced the frequency of migraine episodes. In trials where acupuncture was added to usual care, it resulted in a significant reduction in headache frequency compared to usual care alone. When acupuncture was compared to “fake” acupuncture, the true acupuncture group had a higher rate of halving headache frequency. Acupuncture was also found to be similarly effective as prophylactic drugs in reducing migraine frequency. Side effects were minimal, and dropout rates were lower compared to drug treatments.

The findings suggest that acupuncture can reduce the number of migraine days per month, with an average reduction from six days to three and a half days for those receiving true acupuncture. The quality of the evidence was considered moderate.


In conclusion, acupuncture can be considered as a treatment option for individuals with migraines who are willing to undergo this therapy. However, more long-term studies are needed to further evaluate its effectiveness compared to other migraine treatments.


Klaus Linde, etc, Acupuncture for the prevention of episodic migraine, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews Review, June 2016

Why double-blind, placebo-controlled trials for acupuncture are difficult even impossible?

Author: Dr. Richard Zeng (Chinese Med)

Double-blind, placebo-controlled trials are the golden standard for high quality of research. However, it can be very challenging to design and implement to acupuncture trials. Here are several factors affect the design of trials :

Needle insertion and sensation

Acupuncture involves the insertion of needles into specific points on the body, which creates a unique sensory experience. It can be challenging to create a placebo treatment that mimics the sensation of needle insertion convincingly. Sham acupuncture controls attempt to simulate the sensation, but it is difficult to completely mask the difference between real acupuncture and a placebo treatment.

Acupuncturist involvement

In traditional acupuncture practice, the acupuncturist plays an active role in the treatment. They may have specific training, techniques, and interactions with the patient that contribute to the therapeutic process. It can be difficult to blind the acupuncturist to the treatment being administered, which can introduce bias and affect the blinding of the study.

Expectations and beliefs

Acupuncture has a strong placebo component, and patient expectations and beliefs can significantly influence their perception of the treatment’s effectiveness. It is challenging to completely blind participants to their treatment group, as they may have prior knowledge or beliefs about acupuncture that can affect their responses.

Variability in treatment protocols

Acupuncture encompasses various techniques, styles, and individualised treatment approaches. There is significant variation in the choice of acupuncture points, needling techniques, and treatment durations among practitioners. Standardising treatment protocols for a placebo-controlled trial can be difficult due to these variations, which may limit the ability to compare results across studies.

Despite these challenges, researchers have made efforts to develop sham acupuncture controls to create placebo-like experiences. These sham controls may involve superficial needle insertion, non-penetrating needles, or non-specific needling locations. However, sham acupuncture is not real placebo. These methods may still provide some therapeutic effects or fail to fully replicate the specific physiological effects of true acupuncture.

While may be not impossible achieving complete blinding in acupuncture trials remains a complex task, and studies may still face limitations in achieving a fully placebo-controlled design.

Sham acupuncture is not real placebo

author:  Dr. Richard Zeng C.M.

What is a sham acupuncture needle?

A sham acupuncture needle is a type of placebo device used in research studies to create a control group for acupuncture trials. A sham needle is designed to mimic the sensation of needle insertion without penetrating the skin or stimulating specific acupuncture points.

There are different types of sham needles. They have their own method of simulating acupuncture without delivering the therapeutic effects with real needling. Here are a few examples:

Streitberger Placebo Acupuncture Needle

Streitberger placebo needles

Streitberger placebo needle: This type of sham needle consists of a blunt tip that retracts into the handle upon contact with the skin. It gives the sensation of needle penetration without actually piercing the skin.

park device - sham acupuncture needlesPark sham device: The Park sham device resembles a real acupuncture needle, but it has a blunt tip and a sheath that covers the needle, preventing skin penetration during insertion.

Non-penetrating needle: This type of sham needle has a blunt tip and does not penetrate the skin. It may have a collapsible handle or other mechanisms to create the sensation of needle insertion.

non-penetrating needles

non-penetrating needles

Toothpick or placebo needle: In some cases, a toothpick or a specifically designed placebo needle that does not penetrate the skin is used as a sham control. This provides a tactile sensation similar to acupuncture but without actual needling.

What are shame needles used for?

The purpose of using sham acupuncture needles is to create a control group that experiences a placebo treatment closely resembling real acupuncture. By comparing the outcomes of the real acupuncture group with the sham acupuncture group, researchers can assess the specific effects of acupuncture beyond placebo or non-specific effects. The use of sham needles helps control for placebo responses and improves the validity of the study results.

Sham needles creates some stimulation as real needles too

Sham acupuncture needles are designed to create a sensory experience similar to real needles. They provide a placebo-like stimulation. While they do not penetrate the skin or stimulate specific acupuncture points, they are intended to mimic the sensation of needle insertion and create a tactile experience for the recipient.

As sham acupuncture needles contact the skin, the sensation they created can be part of acupuncture sensation

The sensory experience created by sham needles, including the tactile sensation when they come into contact with the skin, can be considered part of the overall acupuncture sensation. Sham acupuncture is designed to mimic the physical aspects of real acupuncture, including the feeling of needle insertion and the associated sensations that patients may expect during an acupuncture treatment.

Sham acupuncture is not real placebo

While sham acupuncture is designed to serve as a placebo control in research studies, it is not a true placebo in the strict sense.

A true placebo would be an inert substance or intervention that has no specific physiological effects.

While sham acupuncture is intended to mimic certain aspects of real acupuncture, it does have some similar sensory experience and the ritualistic aspects of real treatment.

Sham acupuncture may still elicit non-specific effects, such as the placebo response, which can influence participants’ perception of the treatment’s effectiveness. Additionally, the sensory experience of sham needles, even though it does not involve needle penetration or stimulation of specific acupuncture points, can have its own distinct effects on the body and may activate certain physiological responses.

While sham acupuncture attempts to control for placebo effects and other non-specific factors, it is important to recognise that it is not a true placebo. It serves as a method to isolate and evaluate the specific effects of acupuncture beyond these non-specific influences, but it does not completely eliminate all potential confounding factors.

Acupuncture Eases Menopause Symptoms in Breast Cancer Patients – Research found

Balanced energy


A study explored how acupuncture could help manage menopause symptoms in breast cancer patients. It discovered that while acupuncture effectively relieved general menopause symptoms, it didn’t significantly reduce hot flushes in patients undergoing medical menopause due to breast cancer treatments. For those concerned about hormone therapy’s side effects, acupuncture might serve as an alternative.


The study, accessible at this link focused on breast cancer patients experiencing hot flushes due to medical menopause. Instead of traditional hormone therapy, some patients chose acupuncture. The research reviewed various randomised clinical trials involving 844 women, averaging 58 years old, using Cochrane criteria to assess the acupuncture’s effectiveness.


The analysis showed that while acupuncture didn’t notably impact the frequency and severity of hot flushes (p = 0.34; p = 0.33), it did significantly improve overall menopause symptoms (p = 0.009). No severe adverse effects were reported from acupuncture treatment.


Acupuncture emerges as an effective method to alleviate menopause symptoms for breast cancer patients. However, its influence on hot flushes appears limited. For those worried about hormone therapy’s repercussions, considering acupuncture as an alternative is recommended. Further large-scale studies exploring biomarkers or cytokines could deepen our understanding of how acupuncture aids in managing menopause symptoms in breast cancer patients.