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Int Rev Neurobiol. 2013;111:49-65. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-411545-3.00003-1.

Acupuncture point specificity.

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Acupuncture and Tuina School, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu, China.


Acupuncture, as a modality treatment, has gained increasing popularity and acceptance between public and health-care professionals worldwide. Recently, there has been intensive debate about the efficacy of acupuncture therapy due to the conflicting outcome of clinical trials. Acupoint specificity was regarded as one of the core scientific issues with respect to acupuncture practice at the Society for Acupuncture Research international symposium held in 2007. In this chapter, we reviewed the recent development in basic science and clinical studies on the role of acupoint specificity. The evidence cumulated from brain imaging and many biological studies showed that the point specificity in acupuncture does exist, although acupoint specificity-related issues such as sham acupoint and placebo phenomenon need to be seriously considered. How to optimize the efficacy of acupoint and minimize the impact of sham acupuncture is an urgent issue faced by acupuncture community, and more studies are warranted on the subjects.


Acupuncture; Biomarkers; Clinical trials; Standardization

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