Tag Archive: German


My former teacher, Stephen Birch, wrote this excellent article on problems with the famous German acupuncture studies that everyone’s still talking about. The problems he discusses are all too common in the field of acupuncture research.

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German Shoulder Pain Study

Well sometimes simple needling protocols wind up being effective, as this study shows 🙂 However I’d like to point out that it succeeded in spite of the research protocol, which used a sham needling procedure. In many (if not most!) studies that use sham needling, the research designers are unaware of the variety of acupuncture techniques in current use, so that for a good percentage of patients the sham needling is often as good or better than the “real” acupuncture protocol they use.

Furthermore, any needling into the body (at a real point or not) has certain non-specific effects that are usually beneficial. So a correct estimate of the effects of the real acupuncture should not be compared to the sham results but to the results of no treatment (not always practical or ethical to do).