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Search PubMed for 'acupuncture' and 'meta analysis'. Look at the results. Anyone see a pattern?

 

  1. Acupuncture therapy for sudden sensorineural hearing loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials: There was not sufficient evidence showing that acupuncture therapy alone was beneficial for treating SSHL. However, interventions combining acupuncture with WMCT had more efficacious results in the treatment of SSHL than WMCT alone. Electroacupuncture alone might be a viable alternative treatment besides WMCT for SSHL. However, given that there were fewer eligible RCTs and limitations in the included trials, such as methodological drawbacks and small sample sizes, large-scale RCTs are required to confirm the current findings regarding acupuncture therapy for SSHL. 
  2. Acupuncture for Treating Aromatase Inhibitor-Related Arthralgia in Breast Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis: Acupuncture has been reported as a safe and promising treatment for AIMSS, but the present analysis indicated that the effects were not statistically significant. Other outcome measurements, such as imaging studies, would be worth including in future studies to further confirm the efficacy of acupuncture in AIMSS.
  3. Acupuncture for melasma in women: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials: MA appeared to be beneficial and safe for women with melasma, but insufficient evidence was found to reach conclusions. The encircling needling method, the quick needling method, intensive needle manipulations and individualised points’ selection were widely used.
  4. Complementary and alternative medicine for the treatment of obesity: a critical review: The evidence supporting the effectiveness and safety of these methods is either lacking or point to a negligible clinical benefit, barely surpassing that of the placebo. Furthermore, several limitations are observed in the available scientific literature. These shortcomings include, without being limited to, uncontrolled trial designs, non-random allocation of subjects to treatment arms, small number of patients enrolled, short durations of follow-up, and ambiguous clinical and laboratory endpoints.

    CONCLUSIONS:

    Further investigations are necessary to accurately determine the efficacy, safety, standard dosage/procedure, and potential side effects of the various CAM methods currently in use.
  5. Auricular acupuncture with seed or pellet attachments for primary insomnia: a systematic review and meta-analysis: Nonetheless, considering the poor methodological quality, insufficient sample size and possible publication bias, current evidence is not yet adequate to provide a strong support for the use of auricular acupuncture in the treatment of primary insomnia. More strictly designed clinical studies will be needed to obtain a more explicit conclusion.
  6. The efficacy of acupoint stimulation in the treatment of psychological distress: A meta-analysis. Due to methodological shortcomings, it was not possible to determine if the effect is due to acupoint stimulation or simply due to treatment elements common with other therapies.
  7. Effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicine as an adjunct therapy for Parkinson’s disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis: Although the data were limited by methodological flaws in many studies, the evidence indicates the potential superiority of TCM as an alternative therapeutic for PD treatment and justifies further high-quality studies.
  8. Effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for supraventricular tachycardia: a systematic review and meta-analysis: As was shown in the present evidence, acupuncture is safe and effective for the treatment of supraventricular tachycardia, but the level of evidence was low and the intensity of conclusion needed to be improved.
  9. Efficacy of acupuncture for psychological symptoms associated with opioid addiction: a systematic review and meta-analysis: This review and meta-analysis could not confirm that acupuncture was an effective treatment for psychological symptoms associated with opioid addiction. However, considering the potential of acupuncture demonstrated in the included studies, further rigorous randomized controlled trials with long followup are warranted.
  10. An updated meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety of acupuncture treatment for cerebral infarction: Current evidence provisionally demonstrates that acupuncture treatment is superior to either non-acupuncture or conventional therapy for cerebral infarction. Despite this conclusion, given the often low quality of the available trials, further large scale RCTs of better quality are still needed.
  11. Acupuncture in the treatment of tinnitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis: The results of this review suggest that acupuncture therapy may offer subjective benefit to some tinnitus patients. Acupuncture points and sessions used in Chinese studies may be more appropriate, whereas **
  12. Randomized controlled trials of acupuncture and moxibustion for post-stroke constipation: a meta analysis: This result indicated that acupuncture was effective for post-stroke constipation and had some advantages compared with other therapies. But the quality of included RCTs was low, and high-quality, large-sample and multi-center RCTs were needed to perform further verification.
  13. Acupuncture for schizophrenia: Limited evidence suggests that acupuncture may have some antipsychotic effects as measured on global and mental state with few adverse effects. Better designed large studies are needed to fully and fairly test the effects of acupuncture for people with schizophrenia from mostly very low quality evidence.
  14. Acupuncture for functional dyspepsia. Nevertheless, all evidence was of low or very low quality. The body of evidence identified cannot yet permit a robust conclusion regarding the efficacy and safety of acupuncture for FD.
  15. Auricular acupuncture for primary insomnia: a systematic review based on GRADE system: In conclusion, for the treatment of primary insomnia, AA could effectively improve sleep quality, but due to the low evidence quality, cautious attitude should be taken on this conclusion, and clinical trials with large sample and high quality were needed in the further.
  16. Acupuncture for the treatment of spasticity after stroke: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials: The effect of acupuncture for spasticity in patients with stroke remains uncertain, primarily because of the poor quality of the available studies. Larger and more methodologically sound trials are needed
  17. Effectiveness and safety of heat-sensitive moxibustion on bronchial asthma: a meta-analysis of randomized control trials. HSM did not show superiority to conventional Western Medicine and acupoint application in terms of curative effects, and may be superior to warm-suspended moxibustion with regard to long-term curative effects. Because of low quality of the included RCTs, this conclusion must be bolstered with higher-quality RCTs.
  18. Efficacy of acupuncture on fibromyalgia syndrome: a meta-analysis: Some evidence testified that the effectiveness of acupuncture therapy for fibromyalgia was superior to drugs; however, the included trials were not of high quality or had high bias risks. Acupuncture combined with drugs and exercise could increase pain thresholds in the short-term, but there is a need for higher quality randomized controlled trials to further confirm this.
  19. Efficacy of auricular therapy for pain management: a systematic review and meta-analysis: Electroacupuncture stimulation did not show significant evidence for efficacy, which may be due to the small sample size (i.e., only 19 subjects were included). Conclusion. Further large-scale RCTs are needed to determine the efficacy of auricular therapy for pain.
  20. The effectiveness of acupuncture in postoperative gastroparesis syndrome—a systematic review and meta-analysis: The results suggested acupuncture might be effective to improve PGS, however, a definite conclusion could not be drawn due to low quality of trials. Further large-scale, high-quality randomized clinical trials are needed to validate this.
  21. Effects of moxibustion or acupoint therapy for the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea: a meta-analysis. Moxibustion and acupoint therapy can relieve pain effectively for individuals with PD, and these treatments have advantages in overall efficiency. Because of limitations on the quantity and quality of the included studies and the lack of a large, multicenter study, the research team’s conclusion has yet to be substantiated.
  22. A meta-analysis on acupuncture treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome: However, the quality of the collected articles is generally lower due to unclear bias, no sample quantity estimation, incorrect randomization methods, no follow-up survey, etc.

    CONCLUSION:

    Acupuncture therapy may be effective for PCOS, but needs to be confirmed further by larger sample randomized controlled trials.
  23. A meta-analysis of ear-acupuncture, ear-acupressure and auriculotherapy for cigarette smoking cessation: However, meta-analysis results derived from relatively small-sized trials with no biochemical validation of SC in Pool 2. Larger, well-controlled studies using biochemical confirmation of SC are needed.

That is 23 abstracts from the first 60 hits, more than a third, 3 of 26 pages of results from the search. I grew weary of the exercise at that point. So I skipped to the first meta-anaysis on acupuncture from 1989, A meta-analysis of acupuncture for chronic pain. Guess what? It says the same thing:

Various potential sources of bias, including problems with blindness, precluded a conclusive finding although most results apparently favoured acupuncture.

We sometimes laugh about pseudo-medical meta-analyses as they almost always say the same thing in the conclusions: Effects are small or non existent, the clinical trials included are all methodologically poorly done making any likely effects noted due to bias and poor study design. Yet somehow more studies need to be done.

25 years of the same results, yet somehow acupuncture not only has not been abandoned, it is thriving. Amazing.

If this were a real therapy or medication, based in reality,  it would have been long ago abandoned. But that is what separates pseudo-medicine from the real deal.  Negative studies never result in leaving the pseudo-medicine in the dustbin of history.

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