Scientific and Scholarly Articles

Sometimes a significant article is published in an academic journal and never makes it to the headlines. Here are links to some of those and the major resources for finding out more.

Some Significant Resources for Research and Education

Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews: Database of reviews for scientific evidence.
Evidence Based Acupuncture: Website reviewing the scientific evidence for acupuncture.
Acupuncture in Medicine: Quarterly publication of the British Medical Journal on acupuncture.
Brain Science Podcast: Free podcast interviews with many great names in neuroscience.
Body In Mind: Site of Lorimer Moseley, Professor of Neuroscience and Chair of Physiotherapy in Australia, who writes a lot about the brain's role in pain.
Hugh MacPherson: Acupuncturist and Senior Research Fellow at the University of York.
Thomas Lundeberg: Swedish medical researcher of acupuncture.
Ted Kaptchuk: Harvard medical professor, researcher of placebo effects and medical pluralism.
The Chinese Text Project: Online resource for many classics of philosophy, medicine and literature in both Chinese and English.
Neuroscience News: Online journal publishing summaries of neuroscience research.

Other Articles

26-Sept-2018: Live Science:
Ötzi the Iceman's Tattoos May Have Been a Primitive Form of Acupuncture
An update to the 1999 article in the Lancet which made the same claim but with further observations on his use of medicinal mushrooms and ferns.

27-Mar-2018: Nature:
Why Chinese medicine is heading for clinics around the world
For the first time, the World Health Organization will recognize traditional medicine in its influential global medical compendium.

27-Mar-2018: Scientific Reports:
Structure and Distribution of an Unrecognized Interstitium in Human Tissues
Echoing the discovery of lymphatic tissue in the brain that mirrors the Du vessel, anatomists find a network of interstitial fluid shock absorbers that seems to mirror the San Jiao, an organ system in Chinese medicine that has never had a western equivalent.

22-Mar-2018: The Lancet:
Low back pain
A series of articles on low back pain. The second section on prevention and treatment mentions acupuncture as an adjunctive option and T'ai Chi as a form of exercise which is recommended as a first line treatment. Cognitive behavioural interventions which arguably also owe a debt to oriental philosophical approaches to pain and suffering are also in the first line treatments.

30-Nov-2017: Journal of Pain:
Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Update of an Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis
The authors conclude that "acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain, with treatment effects persisting over time... Decreases in pain following acupuncture cannot be explained solely in terms of placebo effects." DOI: 10.1016/j.jpain.2017.11.005

22-Nov-2017: Dr. Mirkin:
Why Ice Delays Recovery
Dr. Mirkin, who introduced the RICE protocol to sports medicine in 1978, on why he has recanted the Rest and Ice components. Chinese traumatology has always considered these more harmful in the long term by increasing stagnation when the injury itself is a form of Qi and Blood stasis.

Feb-2017: The Australia Acupuncture and Chinese Medical Association:
The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review 2017
Macdonald & Janz found evidence for effectiveness in 117 conditions (8 strong, 38 moderate, 71 weak) and addressed the issue of reporting bias against acupuncture when using trial designs aimed at testing pharmaceuticals.

1-Sep-2016: NIH News Releases:
NIH review finds nondrug approaches effective for treatment of common pain conditions
Despite receiving little attention in mainstream press, this review found acupuncture, tai chi, yoga, massage and relaxation effective for pain conditions.

14-Jul-2016: Nature:
Nature Outlook: Pain
Nature supplement on pain including a few mentions of interest to the historian of medicine and Chinese medical practitioner.

6-Jul-2016: Science Alert:
A bug in fMRI software could invalidate 15 years of brain research
Well, this throws a spanner in the works. Original paper at DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1602413113.

19-Apr-2016: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews:
Acupuncture for tension-type headache
New review of acupuncture for tension type headaches finds acupuncture superior to sham. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007587.pub2.

1-Jun-2015: Neuroscience News:
Researchers Find Missing Link Between the Brain and Immune System
A structural link is discovered connecting the lymphatic system and the brain which happens to follow the exact path of the Du Mai-Governor Vessel, indicated in mental and immune pathologies.

19-Dec-2014 - 13-Nov-2015: Science Magazine:
The Art and Science of Traditional Medicine (3 part supplement):
Part 1: TCM Today â?? A Case for Integration (12-Dec-2014)
Part 2: Multidisciplinary Approaches for Studying Traditional Medicine (16-Jan-2015)
Part 3: The Global Impact of Traditional Medicine (13-Nov-2015)

1-May-2014: Scientific American:
Can Acupuncture Curb Killer Immune Reactions?
Article mainly on research into the ability of St-36 to dampen immune reactions.

14-Jan-2014: Aeon:
The Geel question
Interesting article about Geel (pronounced 'Hyale'), a town in Belgium, where a 700 year old medieval tradition of welcoming the mentally ill into peoples' homes is being hailed as a progressive model for treatment. It also shows that historical treatments were not all exorcisms and witch hunts.

24-Sep-2013: PLOS Medicine:
Acupuncture and Counselling for Depression in Primary Care: A Randomised Controlled Trial

10-May-2013: Acupuncture in Medicine (BMJ Group):
Trials of acupuncture for drug dependence: a recommendation for hypotheses based on the literature

10-May-2013: Acupuncture in Medicine (BMJ Group):
Acupuncture in preventing postoperative anaesthesia-related sore throat: a comparison with no acupuncture

3-May-2013: Autonomic Neuroscience:
Site-specific organ-selective effect of epifascial acupuncture on cardiac and gastric autonomic functions

19-Mar-2013: Minerva Anestesiology:
Acupuncture versus valproic acid in the prophylaxis of migraine without aura: a prospective controlled study

31-Jan-2013: Advances in Clinical Neuroscience:
Acupuncture for Headache

17-Dec-2012: PLoS One:
A Meta-Analysis of Core Stability Exercise versus General Exercise for Chronic Low Back Pain
Specific exercises for core strength only helped in short term relief but were no better than general exercise in the long run. An update to this two years later came to the same conclusion. This is the only time I have seen exercise tested to the same standard that acupuncture is held and the fact that one is accepted while the other is not reveals the bias of the policy makers.

22-Oct-2012: Archives of Internal Medicine:
Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Individual Patient Data Meta-analysis

9-2012: NICE Clinical Guidelines:
Headaches: Diagnosis and management of headaches in young people and adults

11-Jan-2012: BMJ Open:
Acupuncture in practice: mapping the providers, the patients and the settings in a national cross-sectional survey

24-Nov-2012: BioMed Central:
Using a Delphi consensus process to develop an acupuncture treatment protocol by consensus for women undergoing Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) treatment

2012: Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine:
Neural Acupuncture Unit: A New Concept for Interpreting Effects and Mechanisms of Acupuncture

22-Dec-2011: Nature:
Traditional Asian Medicine in the supplement to Nature Vol. 480, No. 7378. It claims free access but is not.

11-Oct-2011: Nature Medicine:
The discovery of artemisinin (qinghaosu) and gifts from Chinese medicine

1-Sep-2011: The Scientist:
Puncturing the Myth: Purinergic signaling, not mystical energy, may explain how acupuncture works.

14-Feb-2011: Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy:
Placebo response to manual therapy: something out of nothing?
Game changing article that argued the placebo effect is an active mechanism, shifting manual therapies beyond operating on local structures and towards interacting with the nervous system.

11-2010: The Rheumatologist:
Is Acupuncture for Pain a Placebo Treatment? An examination of the evidence

21-Sep-2006: British Medical Journal:
A randomised controlled trial of acupuncture care for persistent low back pain: cost effectiveness analysis

7-Jul-2006: Biomed Central:
How might acupuncture work? A systematic review of physiologic rationales from clinical trials

16-Feb-2006: British Medical Journal:
Sham device v inert pill: randomised controlled trial of two placebo treatments.
Demonstrates some of the methodological problems of testing acupuncture using a sham device.

2005: Sports Medicine (Auk. NZ):
The Mechanisms of Massage and Effects on Performance, Muscle Recovery and Injury Prevention
Important considering the scrutiny acupuncture is placed under compared to the often unquestioned claims made of massage improving circulation and recovery times. If mechanisms are mainly touch based neurological and psychological then acupuncture could produce similar effects without pressure.
No DOI but PMID is 15730338

30-Mar-2005: Journal of Applied Physiology:
Brain stem mechanisms underlying acupuncture modality-related modulation of cardiovascular responses in rats

18-Nov-2004: British Medical Journal:
Acupuncture as a complementary therapy to the pharmacological treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: randomised controlled trial.
A very famous study that convinced many sceptics that acupuncture was effective in this specific condition.

21-Jan-2004: British Medical Journal:
Cost effectiveness analysis of a randomised trial of acupuncture for chronic headache in primary care

25-Jul-2001: Journal of Applied Physiology:
Biomechanical response to acupuncture needling in humans

18-Sep-1999: The Lancet:
A Medical Report from the Stone Age?
A report on the therapeutic implications of tattoos found on 5200 year old mummy Ötzi the Iceman.