Winter Newsletter - January 2013

SAR Announcements


Early-bird Registration Extended through February 15, 2013: SAR’s 2013 International Research Conference (April 18-21, 2013, Ann Arbor, MI)

SAR will host our international research conference in Ann Arbor MI on April 18-21 in 2013.  The conference is being co-sponsored by the University of Michigan Department of Anesthesiology and the University of Michigan Program in Integrative Medicine.  Important research findings from the three years since our previous 2010 conference in Chapel Hill will be presented and discussed. Thematically, the 2013 conference will emphasize the role of acupuncture in 21st century health care and the importance of translational applications within this field of research. Our conference includes four keynote lectures, which directly address current topics in acupuncture research. In addition, a special panel discussion will address the conference theme, the impact of acupuncture research on 21st century health care. Additional symposia will (1) highlight the findings of SAR’s latest White Paper on clinical and basic research comparisons of electrical and manual acupuncture (see below), and (2) explore context and patient-practitioner effects in acupuncture research. Original presentations in three main areas: clinical trials, basic science, and research methodology were solicited and selected from members of the national and international acupuncture research communities. To foster interdisciplinary dialogue and collaboration, the conference will also include interactive workshops focusing on comparative effectiveness research and objective outcomes in clinical trials.

For conference sponsorship information, contact Richard Harris at  Visit the conference website for more information and to register:


SAR Outreach Survey

As your professional acupuncture research association, we welcome input from our colleagues across the nation and beyond - both members and potential members - in order to ensure we are addressing the needs of this exciting field of practice. To that aim, we are requesting a bit of your time to complete an outreach survey to help inform our work and upcoming goals. As our way of saying thank you, if you enter your name, email address, and mailing address on the survey, your name will be entered into a drawing to win a $100 Amazon gift card (void where prohibited).  Survey response deadline: January 31, 2013.  Visit this link to participate:


Research Survey for CAM Providers

The Department of Psychology at Bishops University in Quebec is conducting a research survey of CAM practitioners, including AOM practitioners about their attitudes and approach towards dealing with the health behaviors of their clients.  The anonymous online survey is very brief and it is anticipated it can be completed in 10-15 minutes. The study team would like to compare how practitioners of different CAM modalities such as Acupuncture are similar or different in how they deal with their clients with respect to their health behaviors.  Survey response deadline: January 31, 2013.  Visit this link to participate:


Research Highlights

Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Individual Patient Data Meta-analysis

Acupuncture Trialists’ Collaboration led by Andrew Vickers published an article attracting much attention from media this September. This study meta-analyzed the effect size of acupuncture for four major chronic pain conditions: back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic headache, and shoulder pain. The unique aspect of the methods used here is using individual patient data from 29 of 31 eligible RCTs, with a total of 17 922 patients. The primary analysis indicated acupuncture was superior to both sham and no-acupuncture control for each pain condition. Patients receiving acupuncture had less pain, with scores that were 0.23 (95% CI, 0.13-0.33), 0.16 (95% CI, 0.07-0.25), and 0.15 (95% CI, 0.07-0.24) SDs lower than sham controls for back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, and chronic headache, respectively; the effect sizes in comparison to no-acupuncture controls were 0.55 (95% CI, 0.51-0.58), 0.57 (95% CI, 0.50-0.64), and 0.42 (95% CI, 0.37-0.46) SDs. These results were robust to a variety of sensitivity analyses, including those related to publication bias. The authors concluded that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option. Significant differences between true and sham acupuncture indicate that acupuncture is more than a placebo. It is highly recommended to review the article in its entirety.

Vickers AJ, Cronin AM, Maschino AC, Lewith G, Macpherson H, Foster NE, Sherman KJ, Witt CM, Linde K; for the Acupuncture Trialists' Collaboration. Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Individual Patient Data Meta-analysis. Arch Intern Med. 2012 Sep 10:1-10. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2012.3654.


There is evidence that individualized acupuncture treatment reduces bothersomeness and pain intensity of chronic low back pain (cLBP) better than sham acupuncture

In a multicenter, randomized, patient-assessor blind, sham-controlled clinical trial, acupuncture treatment showed the better effects on the reduction of the bothersomeness and pain intensity than sham-control in participants with cLBP. There was no significant adverse event by acupuncture treatment. 

Cho et al. randomized 130 participants with non-specific LBP of lasting for at least the last 3 months into two groups. Participants got individualized real acupuncture treatments or sham acupuncture treatments over 6 weeks (twice a week) from Korean medicine doctors in three Korean medical hospitals. Primary outcome was change of visual analogue scale (VAS) score for bothersomeness of cLBP. Secondary outcomes included VAS for pain intensity and questionnaires including Oswestry disability index (ODI), general health status (SF-36), and Beck’s depression inventory (BDI). 

One hundred sixteen participants finished the treatments and 3-, 6-month follow ups with fourteen subjects’ drop-out. Significant differences of VAS for bothersomeness and pain intensity of cLBP have been found between two groups (p<0.05) at the primary end point (8 week). In addition, those two scores have been improved continuously until 3-month follow up (p=0.011, p=0.005, respectively). ODI, BDI and SF-36 scores were also improved in both groups without group difference.


Cho YJ, Song YK, Cha YY, Shin BC, et al. Acupuncture for chronic low back pain: a multicenter, randomized, patient-assessor blind, sham-controlled clinical trial. Spine 2012; DOI:10.1097/BRS.0b013e318275e601.

Correspondance to: Prof. Mi-Yeon Song, KMD PhD,


Acupuncture Analgesia May Be Dependent on Histamine Response

Chinese researchers investigated histamine dependence of acupuncture analgesia in an animal study. Huang et al found an antihistamine blocked the analgesic effect of acupuncture, but did not affect mast cell degranulation in the tissue surrounding the acupoint. Arthritis was induced in the left hind paw in rats. Mean pain thresholds were measured using the thermal-induced paw withdraw test of the left hind paw, and mast cell degranulation ratios were measured to assess histamine dependence at acupuncture Zusanli ST-36, an acupoint chosen away from the target pain site. Huang et al concluded that clemastine, an H1 histamine antagonist applied prior to acupuncture, suppressed acupuncture’s analgesic mean pain threshold (6.54 ± 0.26) compared to acupuncture alone (8.77 ± 0.26, p<0.01). However, clemastine prior to acupuncture had no effect on the degranulation ratio compared to acupuncture alone (51.54 ± 2.32 vs. 57.61 ± 1.42, p>0.05). As a result, the authors concluded that needling an acupoint activates a histaminergic response. 

Huang M, Zhang D, Sa ZY, Xie YY, Gu CL, Ding GH. In Adjuvant-Induced Arthritic Rats, Acupuncture Analgesic Effects Are Histamine Dependent: Potential Reasons for Acupoint Preference in Clinical Practice. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2012, Article ID 810512, doi:10.1155/2012/810512

Upcoming Events

Integrative Healthcare Symposium (February 27-March 2, 2013; New York, NY, USA)

The Integrative Healthcare Symposium, sponsored by Beth Israel Medical Center's Continuum Center for Health and Healing, will bring together multi-disciplinary healthcare professionals dedicated to improving patient care Read more…and defining the future of integrative healthcare.  For details about the event, visit:


Research Methods in Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Training Course (March 18-24, 2013; Baltimore, MD)

The Institute for Integrative Health is accepting applications for Research Methods in Complementary and Integrative Medicine, a three-module training course, to be held March 18-24, 2013, at the Institute's headquarters in Baltimore.  Participants will learn to appraise clinical research and identify gaps, as well as to plan and perform their own study projects. Typically attracting participants from around the world, this interactive course fosters connections and dialogue.  Modules include: (1) Basic Study Design & Basic Statistics; (2) Designing Pragmatic Trials; and (3) Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis.  Selection is on a rolling, space-available basis. Participants will be chosen on their qualifications and involvement or interest in clinical research in CAM. For more information visit:


International Congress on Naturopathic Medicine (ICNM) (July 7-9, 2013, Paris, France)

ICNM is designed to be a premier gathering in 2013 for the most influential and inspiring multi-disciplinary Naturopathic Physicians, Therapists, Professors and Health Care Professionals from around the world, dedicated to improving patient care and defining the future of alternative healthcare. The Scientific Committee is elaborating a large and mature program with internationally distinguished faculty members, researchers and specialists in line with our commitment to innovation, expertise and excellence in complementary medicine.  The United-States will be the Honoring Country at the ICNM 2013.  For further information about the ICNM Congress, visit


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