Many clinical trials performed during the last several decades have confirmed the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of many diseases, from chronic pain syndromes to mood disorders to breech babies. And its unique safety profile makes it the safest effective medical intervention known in the world.
Apparently this is not quite enough in our present economic and healthcare environment to warrant acupuncture’s inclusion in modern healthcare settings on a broader scale. Nor is it enough to have acupuncture be covered by Medicare and by a larger number of health insurance plans. I don’t pretend to understand all of the reasons for this, but I do know that it is most definitely not because of cost, because acupuncture is extremely cost-effective for many ailments and, if it were integrated more into conventional medical treatment protocols, would save consumers and insurance companies a lot of money.
For example, headaches are one of the main indications for acupuncture, most frequently reviewed and most widely accepted even in the most orthodox medical environments. In 2004 the British Medical Journal published the findings of a controlled, randomized trial by Vickers and Wonderling. A total of 401 patients were randomly assigned to 2 groups, one with acupuncture and the other with standard treatment.
The groups were observed for one year and after that time the group receiving acupuncture had fewer, less intense headaches, took less medication, missed fewer days of work and visited their doctors less often, resulting in substantial savings and reducing some of the burden on an overly-taxed healthcare delivery system.
I could cite countless examples of similar studies that demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of acupuncture, but suffice it say that it is time acupuncture took on a more prominent role in our healthcare system.