What is Sham Acupuncture? Let's Find Out Now

What is Sham Acupuncture? Let’s Find Out Now

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body. It helps in balancing the flow of energy, known as Qi or Chi, and promotes overall well-being. Acupuncture has gained popularity for its potential health benefits. But there is another form of acupuncture known as sham acupuncture which is used in research studies.

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What is Sham Acupuncture? Let's Find Out Now
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Understanding Sham Acupuncture

Sham acupuncture, also referred to as placebo acupuncture, is a control procedure used in clinical trials to compare the effects of real acupuncture to a simulated version. In sham acupuncture, the needles are either inserted superficially or placed in locations that are not traditionally associated with acupuncture points. The goal is to create a placebo effect, where the participant believes they are receiving real acupuncture.

It is designed to mimic the sensations of real acupuncture without stimulating the specific acupuncture points. This allows researchers to compare the effects of the actual treatment to the placebo treatment and determine the true effectiveness of acupuncture.

The Purpose of Sham Acupuncture

Sham acupuncture is primarily used in clinical research to evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture treatments. By using a placebo control, researchers can determine if the observed effects are due to the specific acupuncture points or if they are simply a result of the placebo effect.

Placebo effects are powerful and can lead to significant improvements in symptoms, even when the treatment itself is not active. By including a sham acupuncture group in a study, researchers can differentiate between the true effects of acupuncture and the placebo effects.

How Sham Acupuncture is Performed

During a sham acupuncture session, the practitioner may use a variety of techniques to simulate the acupuncture experience. These techniques can include:

  • Using blunt or retractable needles that do not penetrate the skin
  • Placing needles in non-acupuncture points or areas away from the targeted treatment area
  • Using non-penetrating devices that create a sensation similar to acupuncture

The specific method used may vary depending on the study design and the goals of the research. The goal is to create an experience that closely resembles real acupuncture while ensuring that the treatment is inert.

The Importance in Research

Sham acupuncture plays a crucial role in acupuncture research by providing a control group for comparison. Without a placebo control, it would be difficult to determine whether the observed effects are truly due to the acupuncture treatment or if they are a result of placebo effects or other factors.

By comparing the outcomes of real acupuncture treatments to sham acupuncture treatments, researchers can gain a better understanding of the true efficacy of acupuncture. This information is valuable for both practitioners and patients seeking evidence-based treatments.


Sham acupuncture is a simulated version of acupuncture used in research studies. It is designed to create a placebo effect and provide a control group for comparison. By including it in research, scientists can differentiate between the true effects of acupuncture and the placebo effects. This information helps to determine the true efficacy of acupuncture treatments and provide evidence-based care for patients.

Also Read Acupuncture Is Best For Pain Management? Find Out Now

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