Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Acupuncture in mainstream health care

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 21 September 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:611

Rapid Response:

Acupuncture is safe

Acupuncture is not only cost-effective for low back pain (1,2) it is
safe too. In his editorial (3), David Wonderling emphasises the importance
of taking adverse effects into account in economic evaluations.
Unfortunately, in stating that acupuncture ‘sometimes has serious side
effects’ he seems to have misread his reference (Vincent) (4). This was
also a BMJ editorial introducing two articles about acupuncture, being
prospective studies of adverse events. Both found no serious adverse
events, the first after 34 407 acupuncture treatments (5) and the second
after 31 822 treatments (6).

Vincent himself concluded in 2001 that acupuncture is safe in the
hands of competent practitioners and referred to the inadequacy of
anecdotal reports of serious adverse effects in the early literature.

(1) K J Thomas et al BMJ 2006 333: 623

(2) J Ratcliffe et al BMJ 2006 333: 626.

(3) D Wonderling BMJ.2006 333: 611-612

(4) C Vincent BMJ 2001 323: 467-468

(5) H MacPherson et al BMJ 2001 323: 486-487

(6) A White et al BMJ 2001 323: 485-486.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 September 2006
Tony Thick
Sessional GP
Welbeck Medical Centre NE6 2PB