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  • Writer's pictureApril Enriquez

Can Acupuncture Alleviate Anxiety?: Research Update

Anxiety is an increasing problem worldwide.

Especially after the last two years as lockdowns and restriction relax, some people are experiencing something experts call COVID-19 anxiety syndrome.

A 2009 WHO World Mental Health Survey found that anxiety was the most prevalent form of mental health disorder.

According to the most up to date evidence, acupuncture is an effective treatment for anxiety.

In 2017, The Acupuncture Evidence Project, co-authored by Dr. John McDonald, PhD and Dr. Stephen Janz, was published, providing an up-to-date comparative review of the clinical and scientific evidence for acupuncture. This comprehensive document, updating two previous reviews, determined that acupuncture is moderately effective in treating anxiety according to high level evidence.

Their evidence included a 2016 systematic review with over 400 randomized patients that concluded that ‘the effects from acupuncture for treating anxiety have been shown to be significant as compared to conventional treatments.’

The largest of these studies, which included 120 randomized patients, found that acupuncture had a large effect on reducing anxiety and depression compared to conventional treatment involving pharmacological approaches and psychotherapy, with over twice the reduction in symptoms.

A more recent systematic review published in 2018 found that all 13 included studies “reported an anxiety decrease for their treatment group relative to the control groups.” Three of these studies used pharmaceuticals as controls.

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Errington-Evans N. (2015). Randomised controlled trial on the use of acupuncture in adults with chronic, non-responding anxiety symptoms. Acupuncture in medicine : journal of the British Medical Acupuncture Society, 33(2), 98–102.


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