Research: LEO and LIGOT,

Listed in Issue 146


LEO and LIGOT, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, SUNY at Buffalo, Erie County Medical Center, 462 Grider Street, Buffalo, NY 14215, USA,, have reviewed (48 references) trials of acupuncture for depression.


Acupuncture has become a popular complementary and alternative treatment approach. The aim of this review was to examine the randomized controlled trials examining the effects of acupuncture treatment of depression.


Randomized controlled trials of the treatment of depression with acupuncture were located using MEDLINE, Allied and Complementary Medicine and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials. The methodology of trials was assessed using the Jadad criteria, and elements of research design, i.e., randomization, blinding, assessment of attrition rates, were quantified for systematic comparisons among studies.


Among the 9 trials examined, five were deemed to be of low quality based upon Jadad criteria. The odds ratios derived from comparing acupuncture with control conditions within the trials suggests some evidence for the utility of acupuncture in depression. General trends suggest that acupuncture modalities were as effective as antidepressants employed for treatment of depression in the limited studies available for comparison. However, placebo acupuncture treatment was often no different from intended verum acupuncture. The randomized controlled trials extracted were limited by small sample sizes, imprecise enrolment criteria, problems with randomization, blinding, brief duration of study and lack of longitudinal follow-up.


Despite the findings that the odds ratios of existing literature suggest a role for acupuncture in the treatment of depression, the evidence thus far is inconclusive. However, further systematized research into the use of acupuncture is warranted.


Leo RJ, Ligot JS Jr. A systematic review of randomized controlled trials of acupuncture in the treatment of depression. Journal of Affective Disorders 97 (1-3): 13-22, Jan 2007.

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