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Efficacy of acupuncture in insomnia treatment


In this study, researchers provided updated evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for primary insomnia. Their findings were published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

  • Acupuncture is widely used in Asia as an alternative therapy for insomnia.
  • In Western countries, the use of acupuncture is increasing.
  • To determine the suitability of acupuncture as insomnia treatment, the researchers searched 11 databases from January 2008 to October 2017 for relevant RCTs.
  • Two authors independently extracted data and assessed risk of bias.
  • The researchers performed statistical analysis using RevMan 5.3 software then combined data in a meta-analysis according to a predefined protocol.
  • They also performed trial sequential analysis when appropriate and assessed the quality of evidence using Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE).
  • The researchers analyzed 73 RCTs that involved 5,533 participants. Their results showed that real acupuncture treatment yielded better results than no treatment by reducing the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) scores.
  • Acupuncture, combined with medication, also showed better results than medication alone by decreasing PSQI total scores.
  • Compared with estazolam, acupuncture exerted better effects on PSQI scores.
  • It also caused fewer adverse events than western medications.

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that acupuncture benefits people with insomnia by improving their sleep quality. The researchers recommend a larger sample size and more rigorously designed RCTs to explore this benefit further.

Journal Reference:

Cao HJ, Yu ML, Wang LQ, Fei YT, Xu H, Liu JP. ACUPUNCTURE FOR PRIMARY INSOMNIA: AN UPDATED SYSTEMATIC REVIEW OF RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIALS. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 09 May 2019;25(5):451–474. DOI: 10.1089/acm.2018.0046

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