The National Institutes of Health created the Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 1992. In November of 1997, the NIH convened a panel of 12 distinguished physicians and scientists to review the history, licensing, and practice and current status of clinical research on the effectiveness of acupuncture.

The result was the first formal endorsement of acupuncture by the NIH, stating, “There is sufficient evidence of acupuncture’s value to expand its use into conventional medicine and to encourage further studies of its physiology and clinical value.”[1]

The panel urged health professionals to consider acupuncture, particularly integrating its use with conventional medicine after a thorough medical workup. Please visit the National Institute of Health at:

Effectiveness of Acupuncture as Adjunctive Therapy in Osteoarthritis of the Knee:

A Randomized, Controlled Trial

In a study[2] published in December, 2004, the NIH determined that acupuncture is effective in the relief of osteoarthritis of the knee. One of the study’s leader, Dr. Brian M. Berman, Director of the Center for Integrative Medicine and Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore said,

“This trial, which builds upon our previous NCCAM (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine)-funded research, establishes that acupuncture is an effective complement to conventional arthritis treatment and can be successfully employed as part of a multidisciplinary approach to treating the symptoms of Osteoarthritis.”[3]

The study concluded that acupuncture produced a 40% reduction in pain and a 40% improvement in function after 20 treatments. The lower pain levels were maintained over the next three months with one treatment a month. The patients were allowed to continue taking any pharmaceutical therapies that had been previously prescribed.

This represents the largest and most credible study to date funded, by the NIH’s Center of Alternative and Complementary Medicine and is the department’s second largest study on alternative medicine.


In a study[4] conducted with people visiting at 6 AOM clinics in five states:

Ø      70% of those who said they had been recommended for surgery were able to avoid the procedure

Ø      84% reported seeing their MD less

Ø      58% reported seeing a psychotherapist less

Ø      77% reported seeing a physical therapist less

Ø      79% reported reduced use of prescription drugs

Ø      77% reported they were asking for fewer insurance reimbursements.

And patients reported that most of the time they:

Ø      Feel better (78%)

Ø      Miss fewer work days (71%)

Ø      Have less pain (64%)

Ø      Get along better with others (69%)

Ø      Have more energy (58%)

Ø      Are more focused (58%)

Ø      Can work better (64%)

[1] Acupuncture. NIH Consensus Statement, 1997, Nov. 3-5; 15(5): 1-34, p. 19

[2] Berman BM, et al. Effectiveness of Acupuncture as Adjunctive Therapy in Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Randomized,                           Controlled Trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 2004; 141(12): 901-910

[3] NIH/NCCAM Press Release. Acupuncture Relieves Pain and Improves Function in Knee Osteoarthritis. December 20, 2004

[4] Health Visions 2000. Claire Cassidy, Ph.D.

Harmony Integrative Medicine LLC
Jean Painter, DpOM, CH, Ac., L.Ac.
1745 Rustic Timbers Lane Suite D
Prescott, AZ 86303