What Can Acupuncture Treat

There are multiple answers to this question:

  1. The more proper form of this question is “What Can Chinese Medicine Treat.” Acupuncture is only one therapeutic modality of the larger system of Chinese medicine.
  2. The question is somewhat erroneous, as in asking “What can Western medicine treat.” Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are not limited to specific conditions and complaints. Chinese medicine is a complex system which considers and practically deals with all aspects of life, wellness and disease.
  3. Chinese medicine records in its literature, either directly as lists or indirectly through the contents of texts, those conditions which have been treated through acupuncture. These include the entire range of human conditions and maladies.
  4. Each practitioner will have personal knowledge of and experience in treating particular conditions.  Scroll down to view:
    1. A partial list  of conditions with which I have personally had success in treating with Chinese medicine (including some combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine and dietary therapy).
  5. The World Health Organization has published a list of conditions which it considers treatable with acupuncture. The list is extensive but the approach is limited and also outdated.  Scroll down to view:
    1. A summary of the official report published by the World Health Organization on conditions that are treatable with acupuncture.
    2. Full list from the official report published by the World Health Organization on conditions that are treatable with acupuncture.
    3. Complete Report of the World Health Organization on conditions that are treatable with acupuncture.


The following is a list of some of the conditions I have personally treated with success in my practice. By this I mean that I have treated the condition many times, and that the majority of people have received at least significant benefit from the treatments. Treatments may include acupuncture and/or herbal medicine, and generally involve at least some changes in diet and lifestyle. This list is not meant to be inclusive of all conditions I have treated, or that Chinese medicine is capable of treating. Nor is it meant to suggest that everyone with these conditions can be cured. Every person is different, as is every treatment with Chinese medicine.

Abdominal pain, acne, acute musculo-skeletal injury, allergies, amenorrhea, alcohol dependence, anxiety, asthma, back pain, Bell’s palsy, benign prostatic hypertrophy, bipolar disorder, broken bones, bronchitis, bursitis, bulimia, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, colitis, common cold, conjunctivitis, constipation, cough, cystitis, depression, dermatitis, diarrhea, drug dependence, diabetes, ear ache, ear infection, eczema, endometriosis, fatigue, fibrocystic breast disease, fibromyalgia, gastric pain, gastric ulcer, gout, headache, heart palpitations, heel spur, hemorrhoids, hepatitis, herpes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, hypoglycemia, impotence, incontinence, influenza, inguinal hernia, insomnia, interstitial cystitis, irregular menstruation, irritable bowel syndrome, knee pain, laryngitis, lupus, Lyme disease, memory disturbance, Meniere’s disease, menopausal syndrome, menorrhagia, menstrual pain, metrorrhagia, migraines, morning sickness, Morton’s neuroma, multiple sclerosis, neck pain, neuropathy, nicotine dependence, osteoarthritis, ovarian cyst, plantar fasciitis, premenstrual syndrome, prostatitis, psoriasis, Raynaud’s syndrome, reflux, restless leg syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, sciatica, shingles, sinusitis, Sjogren’s syndrome, sleep apnea, sprains and strains, stress, tinnitus, toothache, TMJ, trigeminal neuralgia, ulcerative colitis, upper respiratory infection, urinary tract infection, uterine fibroid, uveitis, vaginitis, vertigo, weight gain, yeast infection.


Acupuncture is good at treating a wide variety of complaints. The following is a summary of the official report published by the World Health Organization on conditions that are treatable with acupuncture.

Ear, Nose, Mouth and Throat Disorders
Sore throat
Upper Respiratory Disorders
Respiratory Disorders
Whooping cough
Gastro-intestinal Disorders
Gastric and abdominal pain
Nausea and vomiting
Ulcer pain
Ulcerative colitis
Urogenital Disorders
Chronic prostatitis
Urinary tract infections
Reproductive and Gynecological Disorders
Female infertility
Labor pain
Male sexual dysfunction
Painful menstruation
Polycystic ovary syndrome
Emotional Disorders
Neurological Disorders
Facial Pain
Post-herpetic neuralgia
Raynaud’s syndrome
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
Musculo-skeletal Disorders
Knee pain
Low back pain
Neck pain
Rheumatoid arthritis
Metabolic Disorders
Diabetes (type 2)
Weight gain
Circulatory Disorders
High blood pressure
High cholesterol
Low blood pressure
Immune Disorders
Sjogren’s syndrome
Alcohol, nicotine and drug dependence
Side effects of radiation and chemotherapy


The World Health Organization published a report in 2002 entitled “Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials.”  Disorders for which acupuncture has been tested in modern clinical trials are grouped into four categories:

1. 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), acute bacillary dysentery, primary dysmenorrhea, acute epigastralgia (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm), facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders), headache, essential hypertension, primary hypotension, induction of labour, knee pain, leukopenia, low back pain, correction of malposition of fetus, 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, sciatica, sprain, stroke, tennis elbow.

2. 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, chronic cholecystitis with acute exacerbation, cholelithiasis, competition stress syndrome, closed craniocerebral injury, non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, earache, epidemic haemorrhagic fever, simple epistaxis (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), hyperlipaemia, hypo-ovarianism, insomnia, labour pain, lactation deficiency, non-organic male sexual dysfunction, ménière disease, post-herpetic neuralgia, neurodermatitis, obesity, opium, cocaine and heroin dependence, osteoarthritis, pain due to endoscopic examination, pain in thromboangiitis obliterans, polycystic ovary syndrome (stein-leventhal syndrome), postextubation in children, postoperative convalescence, premenstrual syndrome, chronic prostatitis, pruritus, radicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome, primary raynaud syndrome, recurrent lower urinary-tract infection, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, traumatic retention of urine, schizophrenia, drug-induced sialism, sjögren syndrome, sore throat (including tonsillitis), acute spine pain, stiff neck, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, tietze syndrome, tobacco dependence, tourette syndrome, chronic ulcerative colitis, urolithiasis, vascular dementia, whooping cough (pertussis).

3. 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:
Chloasma, central serous choroidopathy, colour blindness, deafness, hypophrenia, irritable colon syndrome, neuropathic bladder in spinal cord injury, chronic pulmonary heart disease, small airway obstruction.

4. 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, coma, convulsions in infants, coronary heart disease (angina pectoris), diarrhea in infants and young children, late stage viral encephalitis in children, progressive bulbar and pseudobulbar paralysis.


The complete report of the World Health Organization on conditions that are treatable with acupuncture can be found in PDF form here.