Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant


Physician Assistant Studies

Department Chair

Laura Levy, DHSc, PA-C


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not acupuncture is a beneficial therapy for the treatment of alcohol dependence.

STUDY DESIGN: Review of three randomized controlled trails (RCTs) which were published in 2007, 2015, and 2016.

DATA SOURCES: All articles were presented in English and taken from peer reviewed journals found on PubMed.

OUTCOMES: The various symptoms of alcohol dependence; from withdrawal, cravings, and use were assessed through various methods. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms were assed using the alcohol-withdrawal syndrome scale, alcohol craving was assed using a Visual Analogue Scale, and alcohol use was measured using the Drug Use Disorders Identification Test with added items to measure alcohol use along with utilization of addiction serveries.

RESULTS: Kunz et al. found that there was no statistically significant difference in withdrawal symptoms between acupuncture and aromatherapy as treatment for alcohol dependent patients. Lee et al. found a statistically significant reduction (p<0.01) in alcohol cravings in patients treated with real Zhubin (K19) acupuncture needles compared to the placebo needles placed in the same anatomical locations. Ahlberg et al. found that there was no statistically significant difference in alcohol use between the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) protocol, a local acupuncture protocol, and relaxation techniques in alcohol dependent patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Two out of the three randomized controlled trials found that there was no statistically significant difference in the symptoms of alcohol dependence between acupuncture therapy and either aromatherapy or relaxation. However, Lee et al. found that there was a significant difference seen in alcohol cravings between patients treated with Zhubin acupuncture and its placebo.2 This study however was limited to only male patients and used a different acupuncture protocol compared to the other two studies. With this information, it cannot be concluded that acupuncture is an effective treatment in alcohol dependence and further studies are warranted in order to find a protocol that is effective.