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This paper reviews the use of acupuncture to treat several disorders where pain is not the primary symptom. Studies on asthma have shown a small but consistent short-term therapeutic effect of acupuncture. One study of long-term effects found no improvement in asthma after acupuncture while the other reported a modest effect on symptom relief but with a greater impact on medication reduction. Further studies of the long-term effects of acupuncture on asthma would seem desirable even though the currently available findings are equivocal. Sufficient work has now been carried out on sensorineural deafness to conclude that acupuncture has no worthwhile effects on this condition. Only two studies have been carried out on tinnitus; they indicate that the effects of short courses of acupuncture are at best slight. There are some encouraging findings for acupuncture treatment of hypertension, although the study was seriously flawed by the lack of a no treatment control group. With regard to giving up smoking it seems that acupuncture may assist during the withdrawal period and that it compares favourably with other forms of treatment; whether there is any specific effect of the acupuncture is not yet clear. As with other attempts to stop people smoking, however, there is a high relapse rate. The trials of acupuncture on psychiatric disorders have suffered from the lack of detailed assessment and control groups; no conclusions can be drawn without further studies. The studies on weight loss similarly do not permit any firm conclusions about the usefulness of acupuncture.


Journal article


J R Coll Gen Pract

Publication Date





77 - 81


Acupuncture Therapy, Asthma, Hearing Loss, Sensorineural, Humans, Hypertension, Mental Disorders, Obesity, Smoking, Substance-Related Disorders