Acupuncture and science


Sir, – In “Why do people turn to alternative therapies?” (Health + Family, July 10th), you state that “current available evidence does not support the effectiveness of acupuncture”.

This statement overlooks the most up-to-date comprehensive review of evidence for acupuncture, The Acupuncture Evidence Project, conducted by McDonald and Janz in 2017. This review is based on systematic reviews and meta-analyses, ie the highest levels of research which are also used in conventional medicine to inform clinical practice, and confirms unequivocally the efficacy and effectiveness of acupuncture for treating 117 conditions.

These high levels of evidence for acupuncture have allowed policymakers and clinicians to move beyond outdated narratives.

There are 2,189 international clinical guidelines with positive recommendations for the use of acupuncture.

The American College of Physicians 2017 clinical guidelines strongly recommend acupuncture as a first-line treatment over pharmacologic treatment for acute, subacute and chronic low back pain.

Furthermore, acupuncture has been shown to be more effective than usual care for musculoskeletal issues, depression, chronic pain and irritable bowel syndrome, conditions for which UK GPs identified gaps in conventional care.

Research has also shown that acupuncture is safe in the hands of well-trained practitioners.

In Ireland, acupuncturists professionally regulated by the Acupuncture Foundation Professional Association (AFPA) have a minimum of three years specialist training in acupuncture, the highest level of acupuncture training in Ireland.

The AFPA imposes strict codes of practice and has engaged with the Department of Health for several decades to ensure patient safety. – Yours, etc,


(Chairwoman Emeritus,

AFPA Ireland),


Co Donegal.