How To Find Acupuncture Articles on PubMed

The PubMed website is a great place for finding articles about acupuncture research. The following are a few simple tips to make your searches easier using PubMed.

  • First, go to the front page (, where you can search for articles.
  • Using the “Advanced” search tool will allow you to edit operators (AND/OR/NOT) you’d like to use in your search and will allow you to search by fields, such as Date, Author, Subject, or MeSH Topic.
  • Once you have searched for your terms of interest, you can filter your search, by clicking filters in the left-hand column. For instance—
    • Click “Free Full Text” if you want to find full free articles.
    • Click “5 Years” (under Publication Dates), if you want only recent publications.
    • Click “Review” to find systematic reviews only.
    • If you look in the right hand column (scroll down) under “Search details,” you can see exactly what PubMed searched for.
    • Remember to unclick if you want to change your filters.
    • With acupuncture search terms, simple is often best if you’d like a large selection of results. With limited numbers of acupuncture trials on many topics, over-filtering or being too specific with your terms can limit results.  For example, if you just want to find any acupuncture trials, type “acupuncture” into the search box on the front page. You can then choose the “Clinical Trials” filter in the left-hand column. 
    • Try different terms with the same or similar meaning using multiple independent searches to widen search results. For instance, try a search for “headache” and then a search for “migraine” and then for “head pain.” Be creative. Researchers often use a variety of similar terms in their own searches when looking for articles for systematic reviews.
    • You can search for clinical trials at:
    • Understanding MeSH subjects can help refine searches. Learn about MeSH, which is the National Library of Medicine’s hierarchical system for indexing articles:
    • Perform a PICO search for specific trials. PICO stands for Patient/Problem, Intervention, Compare to, Outcome (optional). For instance, a search of, “P: insomnia, I: acupuncture, C: pharmaceutical,” would identify trials where acupuncture was compared to pharmaceutical treatment for insomnia. 
    • Watch NCBI’s YouTube tutorials on using PubMed:
    • Watch a NCBI webinar on how scientists can best use PubMed:

    Still have questions? You can look up information in PubMed’s online tutorial:

    Besides PubMed, you can try searching other databases, including:
    • The Cochrane Library. For systematic reviews.
    • CENTRAL. Also from the Cochrane Library. The Central Register for Controlled Trials.
    • AcuTrials. A collection of randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews of acupuncture published in the English language. The database is compiled primarily from PubMed, the Cochrane Library and the OCOM library.
    • Embase. From Elsevier. Requires a subscription.
    • Science Direct. For scientific, technical, and medical research.
    • Web of Science. From Thomson Reuters. Requires a subscription.
    • NICE. Database for identifying high-quality evidence, from the National Health Service in the United Kingdom.
    • Trip. For high-quality research evidence. You can sort by quality, date, or relevance.
    • AMED. The Allied and Complementary Medicine Database (requires a subscription).  
    • PsycInfo. For trials related to psychology, behavioral, and social sciences.
    • PEDro. For trials related to physiotherapy.
    • VIP Database for Chinese Technical Periodicals (VIP), Chinese Biomedical Literature Database (CBM), China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI). Chinese medical databases.