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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Point specificity in acupuncture

Emma M Choi1, Fang Jiang1 and John C Longhurst12*

Author Affiliations

1 Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine CA 92697-4075, USA

2 Medical Science 1C240, School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine CA 92697-4075, USA

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Chinese Medicine 2012, 7:4  doi:10.1186/1749-8546-7-4

Published: 28 February 2012

Abstract

The existence of point specificity in acupuncture is controversial, because many acupuncture studies using this principle to select control points have found that sham acupoints have similar effects to those of verum acupoints. Furthermore, the results of pain-related studies based on visual analogue scales have not supported the concept of point specificity. In contrast, hemodynamic, functional magnetic resonance imaging and neurophysiological studies evaluating the responses to stimulation of multiple points on the body surface have shown that point-specific actions are present. This review article focuses on clinical and laboratory studies supporting the existence of point specificity in acupuncture and also addresses studies that do not support this concept. Further research is needed to elucidate the point-specific actions of acupuncture.