Acupuncture studies that try to fit in the standardized placebo controlled model of so called “Evidenced Based Medicine” is sometimes fruitless. How do you really create an acupuncture placebo? Many teams have come up with various options, but the fact is with all these placebo’s you are still doing some sort of treatment. In the opinion of many the best way to to study acupuncture is to compare it to standard of care. That can clearly show what acupuncture can and cannot do.
A recent well designed study did just that. They compared using an SSRI for depression(n=48) vs. using the SSRI in addition to acupuncture (one group manual acupuncture(n=54) and one group electroacupuncture(n=58). The acupuncture groups were found to be associated with a significantly greater improvement in symptoms (69.8% and 69.6%, respectively), as compared to SSRI alone (41.7%). In the SSRI only group, 22.9% of patients required an increase in dose, as compared to 5.7% and 8.9% in the manual acupuncture and electro-acupuncture groups. They also had a 4 week followup after treatment to compare how the treatment groups were doing and the acupuncture group continued to show significant improvement.
The authors of the study concluded: “Our study indicates that acupuncture can accelerate the clinical response to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and prevent the aggravation of depression.”