Research Article

Acupuncture analgesia: an experimental investigation.

Br Med J 1977; 1 doi: (Published 08 January 1977) Cite this as: Br Med J 1977;1:67
  1. D Stewart,
  2. J Thomson,
  3. I Oswald


    A study was designed to establish whether acupuncture has any analgesic properties beyond those of suggestion. In three one-hour experimental sessions the increases in detection thresholds and tolerances for thermal pain at six body locations on 12 subjects were compared. A control session (without needles) was followed by one session in which electrically stimulated needles were inserted in accord with Chinese practice, and another in which the needles were inserted to avoid all recognised acupuncture "points." Acupuncture was significantly more effective than suggestion in raising overall body pain thresholds but just below significance for tolerances. A significant disproportionate effect on the epigastrium, predicted by the choice of acupuncture points, was found for tolerances but not thresholds.