Article Text


An evidence-based approach to acupuncture
  1. Edzard Ernst
  1. Department of Complementary Medicine, School of Postgraduate Medicine & Health Sciences, University of Exeter, 25 Victoria Park Road, Exeter EX2 4NT (UK), Email: E.Ernst{at}


    Evidence-based medicine relies mainly on the findings from clinical trials, and to minimise selection bias such trials should ideally be randomised. As the results of clinical studies are rarely identical, the fairest judgement on the effectiveness of a therapeutic intervention is generated through systematic review of clinical trials. Systematic reviews have to demonstrate that all the available evidence that fulfils appropriate criteria has been considered. Once systematic reviews have established the current evidence on a given subject, this knowledge needs to be implemented in clinical practice.

    Applying the rules of evidence-based medicine to acupuncture proves it to be effective for some conditions and ineffective for others, while its effects on many medical problems remain inconclusive: this indicates areas that require further research. Evidence based medicine should not be regarded as a threat to acupuncture, but as a challenge and an opportunity Importantly, this approach is strongly in the interests of patients.

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