Is Acupuncture Safe?

Generally according to the World Health Organization statement, acupuncture treatment is safe if it is performed by a licensed and well trained practitioner.

Unlike several drug therapies, it is relatively non-toxic with minimal side effects. The WHO states that this may be the reason why acupuncture is so popular for chronic and acute pain states in many countries.

Closeup of hand performing acupuncture therapy on head at salon - Image Credit: Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock

Side effects

Due to its comparable efficacy with major groups of pain relievers like NSAIDs (Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and opioids (e.g. morphine) without significant side effects like dependency and its wide range of applicability that makes acupuncture lucrative.

It is believed that despite lower efficacy compared to conventional treatments for many disorders, the potential for low toxicity makes it popular.

Safety concerns

The acupuncture needles penetrate the skin and are therefore it is an invasive procedure. Consequently there is a risk of complications, especially if not performed by a well trained licensed practitioner.

There have been a reported 671 minor adverse events per 10,000 treatments, and no major ones with acupuncture.

Some risks of acupuncture use include:

Further Reading

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

Last updated Jun 18, 2019

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