Drs Martin & Sue Allbright

'Blending an ancient medical approach of mind and body with modern health'


Acupuncture Research






We would like to share with you our personal view, beliefs and approach about the research that is presented on these pages.

We both value the research of modern science and the many developments that have been discovered.

We also value the depth of wisdom and knowledge of traditional and classical five element acupuncture, which integrates the many aspects of body and mind.

We acknowledge the information gained from research, and we endevaour to use it where appropriate when meeting the needs of an individual who is suffering in health.

We hope later to share more information on the five elements of acupuncture.


Classical Acupuncture

This site was last updated on

12th April 2024

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Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this site is accurate. It is not the intention to mislead or misinform anyone.

Doctors of Acupuncture, Acupuncture Experts, Consultant Acupuncture Specialists, Dr.Traditional Acupuncture & Moxibustion, Acupuncture Pershore, acupuncture in Pershore, Acupuncturists in Pershore, acupuncture Evesham, acupuncture in Evesham, Pershore, Evesham, acupuncture, moxibustion, moxa, moxa roll, moxa cone, moxibustion cones.


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Placebo Effect

Our human responses to an intervention. (Whether it be pills, capsules, injections)

The effect of Practitioner interaction (Visual) and Words (Auditory).

In a study, a group of patients were given the intravenous pain killing drugs by a doctor who told them what was happening and in the other half of the group they  received their drugs also via intravenous drip with an identical administration rate but this was controlled by a computer and these patients had no contact with a doctor. The patients who received their drugs with the doctor present got up to 50% more pain relief than those who received it via computer control. So the significant factor demonstrated here is that human interaction, image and words plays a part in improving pain relief.

Amanzio, M., Pollo, A., Maggi, G. & Benedetti, F. (2001) Response variability to analgesics: a role for non-specific activation of endogenous opioids. Pain 2001; 90: 205– 215

Action - Doing something is better than doing nothing.

A trial where doctors openly told half the patients with long term irritable bowel syndrome that they would receive capsules containing no active ingredients compared to the other half of patients who received nothing at all, found that those patients taking placebos did significantly better than those who received no treatment.

Kaptchuk, T.J. et al. (2010) Placebos without Deception: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Irritable Bowel Syndrome, PLoS ONE 2010; 5: e15591

Components of placebo effect: randomised controlled trial in patients with irritable bowel syndrome

‘Objective To investigate whether placebo effects can experimentally be separated into the response to three components—assessment and observation, a therapeutic ritual (placebo treatment), and a supportive patient-practitioner relationship—and then progressively combined to produce incremental clinical improvement in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.

The first group received no treatment, the second group received sham acupuncture from a practitioner who didn’t engage in verbal interaction and the third group received the sham acupuncture from a practitioner who used an intervention model based on research concerning an optimal patient-practitioner relationship - ie measured empathic care. In the no treatment group, 28% of patients got ‘adequate relief’ ,in the second group, sham acupuncture alone, 44% got adequate relief and in the third group, both sham acupuncture with empathic care, resulted in a  62% in adequate relief. So in short a practitioner who cares and is empathetic activates significant biological changes to our physiology.

Conclusion. Factors contributing to the placebo effect can be progressively combined in a manner resembling a graded dose escalation of component parts. Non-specific effects can produce statistically and clinically significant outcomes and the patient-practitioner relationship is the most robust component.’

Ideally this trial would be repeated but this time including real acupuncture as the third group.

Kaptchuk, T.J. et al. (2008) Components of placebo effect: randomised controlled trial in patients with irritable bowel syndrome British Medical Journal 2008; 336: 999

It is impossible to carry out placebo trials on acupuncture. There is no such thing as an inert needle.

Most people know that we have nerves going to virtually every part of our body so when we place an acupuncture needle in a person we will induce some kind of stimulus. One study confirms this that it is impossible to produce an inactive placebo (sham) needle. MacPherson H. et al (2014) Influence of Control Group on Effect Size in Trials of Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: A Secondary Analysis of an Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis PLoS One. 2014; 9(4): e93739. doi:  10.1371/journal.pone.0093739 There is a review that demonstrates that all three types of dummy placebo needles, (Streitberger, Park and Takakura) are inconsistent in blinding patients to whether they have had real acupuncture or not. George Shengxi Zhang Claire Shuiqing Zhanget al (2018) Systematic review of acupuncture placebo devices with a focus on the credibility of blinding of healthy participants and/or acupuncturists Acupunct Med 2018;36:204–214. doi:10.1136/acupmed-2017-011484

Clinically. In view of this the next best research approach is to compare acupuncture to best standard treatment and as research is directed in this direction we are beginning to see some very positive results on the benefit of acupuncture compared to other treatments, eg. osteoarthritis of the knee.

What do we know? We do know that needling real acupuncture points produce very specific changes within the brain (via looking at functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)) that are very different from the observed effects of sham acupuncture needling.

However all this research into trying to evaluate acupuncture is making researchers discover many invaluable things that are very positive for any practitioner who carries out some form of intervention for a patient, whether it be surgery, prescribing, counselling, etc. The ex Professor of Complementary Medicine, Edzard Ernst states ‘We should always maximise the placebo effect in conjunction with effective treatments,’ Marchant, Jo. Cure: A Journey Into the Science of Mind over Body (p. 35). Canongate Books. Kindle Edition.

We know that acupuncture is very beneficial in helping pain from osteoarthritis of the knee. However it has also been shown that adding a very gentle manipulation to enhance expectation, significantly improves pain and treatment effects of acupuncture. Kong J.,Wang Z., et al. (2018) Enhancing treatment of osteoarthritis knee pain by boosting expectancy: A functional neuroimaging study. NeuroImage: Clinical Volume 18, 2018, Pages 325-334.

Below are listed some of these discoveries, others will be added in due course.