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Acupuncture: much more than meets the eye!
Acupuncture is often promoted as a totally safe therapy. This may be good advertising but, as we have so often discussed on this blog, it is not true. A recent paper evaluated 17 systematic reviews on this subject. Four major categories of adverse effects (AEs) were identified: organ or tissue injuries (13 reviews, median: 36 cases, median deaths: 4), infections (11 reviews, median: 17 cases, median deaths: 0.5), local AEs or reactions (12 reviews, median: 8.5 cases, no deaths were reported), other complications such as dizziness or syncope (11 reviews, median: 21 cases, no deaths were reported). The incidence of any AEs per patient was reported to be 42.4% with traditional acupuncture, 40.7% with minimal acupuncture and 16.7% with non-invasive sham acupuncture. But, as there is no AE-monitoring system, the frequency of serious AEs is essentially unknown, and more AEs are being reported regularly. Here are two further case reports that are too recent to be included in any review.