In a report, published in the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Journals Library, the researchers from the University of York provided significant evidence to prove that acupuncture is not simply a placebo effect. While many approach acupuncture with uncertainty and skepticism, there’s now substantial evidence to prove that it is not a sham.
Professor MacPherson, from the University of York’s Department of Health Sciences, says, “There has been a question mark for many years over whether policy and decision makers should or should not provide wider access to acupuncture. Our aim was to bring together data from high quality clinical trials and provide a robust evidence base that will help reduce this uncertainty and support commissioners and health professionals in making informed decisions backed up with research.”
Acupuncture Offers Pain Relief
Within 29 clinical trials, researchers split 18,000 participants, diagnosed with chronic pain, into two test groups. One test group received acupuncture treatment in addition to standard medical care. Whereas, the other group only received standard medical care.
The results indicated that the addition of acupuncture reduced the number of headaches and migraine attacks. Furthermore, it reduced the severity of neck and lower back pain. It also lessened the effects of osteoarthritis so the patients were less reliant on anti-inflammatory drugs to manage their pain.
Acupuncture Improves Mood Levels
The research team not only focused on treating chronic pain but also depression. Involving 755 patients, the study focused on comparing the effectiveness of acupuncture or counseling versus antidepressants. Like the previous trial, the results proved that alternative methods noticeably reduced the severity of the patients’ depression. After only one treatment, patients experienced fewer, if any, episodes of depression for up to a year. This is exciting news considering antidepressants don’t work well for many struggling with depression.
Acupuncture Is Cost Effective
Professor MacPherson adds that this alternative treatment is more cost effective, and it also “reduces over reliance on drugs that can sometimes result in unwanted side effects.” Relying on prescription drugs can also induce more costs, further supporting his claim that it’s more cost effective.Using the cost-effective metric from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the value for money equates to less than the threshold of £20,000 cost per quality of life year. Because of its costs and benefits, there’s an increase in acupuncture as an alternative to standard medicine and physiotherapy. In the UK, nearly four million acupuncture treatments happen every year.