Adverse reactions to acupuncture in perspective

| February 8, 2010 | 0 Comments | 253 views

The US National Institutes of Health (1997) stated that "one of the advantages of acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted procedures for the same conditions". The difficulty of estimating the incidence of these reactions has been discussed, but nonetheless some researchers have attempted the calculation. Norheim and Fønnebø (1996) estimated that for each year of full time acupuncture practice in Norway, 0.21 complications would arise (complications were classified as mechanical organ injuries, infections, and other adverse effects, not including point-bleeding or small haematomas). Bensoussan and Myers' Australian study (1996) estimated that the average number of adverse events per year of full time Traditional Chinese Medicine practice was one every eight months. Umlauf's (1988) study of acupuncture over a period of 10 years in a Czechoslovakian hospital evaluated 139,988 acupuncture treatments and found 8.9%(approximately 12,459 treatments) resulted in adverse events (faintness, fainting, haematoma, pneumothorax and retained needles). Considering that the Medicines Control Agency receives approximately 17,000-18,000 UK reports of suspected adverse reactions to all medicines each year, of which 55% are serious and 3% are fatal (Hansard, 2000), the incidence of adverse reactions to acupuncture appears relatively low.

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