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What conditions does Acupuncture treat……according to The World Health Organization (WHO),
October 21, 2004

John A. Amaro D.C., FIAMA, Dipl.Ac., L.Ac

In contemporary applications of acupuncture in North America, it is becoming increasingly common to hear patient complaints who are being challenged by their insurance carrier saying acupuncture is not effective for a particular situation and therefore coverage is denied. Of course it is obvious insurance companies are in the business to minimize costs and to escalate productivity and profit. As a result, it is not uncommon or unlikely that our patients will be denied coverage only because the insurance carrier has deemed acupuncture is not an effective or approved treatment.

The World Health Organization (WHO) whose authority concerning health related matters internationally cannot be challenged, has compiled a list of symptoms, syndromes, disease processes, pathologies, traumas, and conditions which have definitely been proven as effectively treated by acupuncture. In another category, diseases, symptoms and conditions which have shown definite therapeutic effects, but more proof is necessary to establish acupuncture as mainstream are listed. Should a patient, insurance company or curious patient or colleague require proof of acupuncture’s effectiveness, the following list is something you will want to keep on file. Its use will be inevitable.

In an official released report “Acupuncture review and analysis of reports on controlled clinical trials”of The World Health Organization (WHO) listed the following symptoms, diseases and conditions have been proven through controlled trials to be an effective treatment by acupuncture:

Low back pain,
Neck pain,
Tennis Elbow,
Knee pain,
Periarthritis of the shoulder,
Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders),
Dental pain
Tempromandibular (TMJ) dysfunction,
Rheumatoid arthritis,
Postoperative pain,
Induction of labour,
Correction of malposition of fetus (breech presentation),
Morning sickness,
Nausea and vomiting,
Post operative pain,
Essential hypertension,
Primary hypotension,
Renal colic,
Adverse reactions to radiation or chemotherapy
Allergic rhinitis including Hay fever
Biliary colic,
Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
Acute bacillary dysentery,
Primary Dysmenorrhea
Acute epigastralgia
Peptic Ulcer
Acute and Chronic gastritis,

The foregoing list is absolute concerning acupuncture’s effectiveness however the report continues with three more categories of acupuncture effectiveness:

  1. Diseases, symptoms and conditions for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown but further proof needed. (68 specific conditions) These conditions are effectively treated as in the first category, it is just more trials are necessary to establish the proof scientifically.
  2. Diseases, symptoms and conditions reporting some therapeutic effects which acupuncture is worth trying. (9 conditions)
  3. Diseases, symptoms and conditions which may be tried provided the practitioner has special modern medical knowledge and adequate monitoring equipment. (8 conditions)

Compliments of:

John A. Amaro D.C., FIAMA, Dipl.Ac, L.Ac.

International Academy of Medical Acupuncture Inc.

The following is a small part of an official 81 page WHO document

3. Diseases and disorders that can be treated with acupuncture

The diseases or disorders for which acupuncture therapy has been tested in controlled clinical trials reported in the recent literature can be classified into four categories as shown below.

Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture has been proved—through controlled trials—to be an effective treatment:

Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
Biliary colic
Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
Dysentery, acute bacillary
Dysmenorrhoea, primary
Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
Hypertension, essential
Hypotension, primary
Induction of labour
Knee pain
Low back pain
Malposition of fetus, correction of
Morning sickness
Nausea and vomiting
Neck pain
Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
Periarthritis of shoulder
Postoperative pain
Renal colic
Rheumatoid arthritis
Tennis elbow

Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown but for which further proof is needed:

Abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to gastrointestinal spasm)
Acne vulgaris
Alcohol dependence and detoxification
Bell’s palsy
Bronchial asthma
Cancer pain
Cardiac neurosis
Cholecystitis, chronic, with acute exacerbation
Competition stress syndrome
Craniocerebral injury, closed
Diabetes mellitus, non-insulin-dependent
Epidemic haemorrhagic fever
Epistaxis, simple (without generalized or local disease)
Eye pain due to subconjunctival injection
Female infertility
Facial spasm
Female urethral syndrome
Fibromyalgia and fasciitis
Gastrokinetic disturbance
Gouty arthritis
Hepatitis B virus carrier status
Herpes zoster (human (alpha) herpesvirus 3)
Labour pain
Lactation, deficiency
Male sexual dysfunction, non-organic
Ménière disease
Neuralgia, post-herpetic
Opium, cocaine and heroin dependence
Pain due to endoscopic examination
Pain in thromboangiitis obliterans
Polycystic ovary syndrome (Stein–Leventhal syndrome)
Postextubation in children
Postoperative convalescence
Premenstrual syndrome
Prostatitis, chronic
Radicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome
Raynaud syndrome, primary
Recurrent lower urinary-tract infection
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
Retention of urine, traumatic
Sialism, drug-induced
Sjögren syndrome
Sore throat (including tonsillitis)
Spine pain, acute
Stiff neck
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
Tietze syndrome
Tobacco dependence
Tourette syndrome
Ulcerative colitis, chronic
Vascular dementia
Whooping cough (pertussis)

Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which there are only individual controlled trials reporting some therapeutic effects, but for which acupuncture is worth trying because treatment by conventional and other therapies is difficult:

Choroidopathy, central serous
Colour blindness
Irritable colon syndrome
Neuropathic bladder in spinal cord injury
Pulmonary heart disease, chronic
Small airway obstruction

Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture may be tried provided the practitioner has special modern medical knowledge and adequate monitoring equipment:

Breathlessness in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Convulsions in infants
Coronary heart disease (angina pectoris)
Diarrhoea in infants and young children
Encephalitis, viral, in children, late stage
Paralysis, progressive bulbar and pseudobulbar

John A. Amaro D.C., FIAMA, Dipl.Ac., L.Ac.
Carefree, Arizona