Written 5 September 2020

References were taken from the BAcC member site. Fact sheets on Anxiety can be found by going to www.acupuncture.org.uk.

References and hyperlinks


Recent systematic reviews of the evidence have found consistently positive results in trials of acupuncture for anxiety (Amorim 2018: thirteen randomised controlled trials (RCTs) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29705474; Goyata 2016: six RCTs https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27355312).

Psychiatric health professionals have rated it as effective and safe, and facilitating communication with their patients (Landgren 2019 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30605358/).

A study using ear acupuncture to reduce anxiety (Kurebayashi 2017  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28403335/).

A retrospective analysis on 379 patients in a hospital emergency department showed significant improvement for stress and anxiety scores after acupuncture (Burns 2019 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6676760/).

120 primary care patients with various symptoms of emotional distress, including anxiety showed acupuncture was more effective than conventional care.  (Arvisdotter 2013 https://bmccomplementmedtherapies.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6882-13-308).

Acupressure has also proved to be an effective intervention for anxiety, whether delivered by a practitioner or self-administered. (Zick 2018 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30687806/).

Promising evidence for anxiety associated with substance misuse (Young et al 2017.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5266803), Eating disorders (Fogarty et al 2010.  https://wwwncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21130359).  Various other associated conditions that are proving positive to acupuncture can be found on the BAcC website fact sheet. https://www.acupuncture.org.uk/a-to-z-of-conditions/a-to-z-of-conditions/1278-anxiety.html


In a recent study where stress was the primary diagnosis, treatment was found to have a beneficial effect, larger than expected and still apparent 12 weeks later.  (Cheung 2020 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32096884/).

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

In a systematic review there were significant differences favouring acupuncture (versus any comparison group) on PTSD symptoms, at post-intervention and at longer follow-up (Grant 2018 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28151093).

PTSD is another area where the BAcC has been research-active. A before and after observational study demonstrated very large improvements in the PTSD outcome measure, such that none of the patients completing the course of six sessions were still classed as having PTSD. The participants were all forces veterans (Healthwatch Norfolk 2018 https://healthwatchnorfolk.co.uk/news/acupuncture-shown-to-be-an-effective-treatment-for-veterans-with-ptsd/).


Acupuncture was seen as effective in reducing depression compared to usual care and comparable to counselling but with quicker results (MacPherson et al 2013 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24086114).

Young people

Acupuncture has been received well by young people experiencing stress and anxiety.  A school in Somerset found it helped pupils with stress, anxiety, ADHD and anger management. (Rabone H 2006 https://www.jcm.co.uk/space-for-acupuncture-at-stanchester-community-school.html).

Given the pressure on student support services, these findings suggest acupuncture may provide an effective treatment option for students who are waiting for counselling or unable to speak to a mental health professional.

For more information and treatment contact Jill Owen on: https://jillowenacupuncture.co.uk/contact-jill

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