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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 5 (2008), Issue 4, Pages 481-489
Original Article

Do Japanese Style Acupuncture and Moxibustion Reduce Symptoms of the Common Cold?

1EBM working group, Research Department, The Japan Society of Acupuncture and Moxibustion (JSAM), Japan
2Research Department of JSAM, Department of Physiology, Meiji University of Oriental Medicine, Hiyoshi-cho, Nantan-City, Kyoto 629-0392, Japan

Received 15 September 2006; Accepted 12 April 2007

Copyright © 2008 Kenji Kawakita et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We summarize the results from a series of investigations of Japanese style acupuncture and moxibustion therapies on symptoms of the common cold that have been conducted (FTLE 1999–03, supported by the Foundation for Training and Licensure Examination in Anma- Massage- Acupressure, Acupuncture and Moxibustion). We also discuss the various interventions and concerns that we faced during these investigations. The subjects were students and teachers. The pilot study (FTLE1999) of a two arm (real and non-treatment control) RCT at a Japanese acupuncture school showed that manual acupuncture to a specific needling point at the throat clearly reduced symptoms of the common cold. The first multi-center (five centers) RCT (FTLE 2000) revealed a significant reduction in cold symptoms, by general linear model analysis (between groups, P = 0.024). To reduce the technical variation, we employed indirect moxibustion to the neck points as a uniform intervention in the next project (FTLE 2001) without statistically significant results. Then we elongated the periods of treatment from 2 to a maximum of 12 weeks (FTLE 2002) with different interventions accompanied by 4 weeks follow-up. The results were still not statistically significant. As the final project, we tried to develop a new experimental design for individualized intervention by conducting n-of-1 trials using elderly subjects in a health care center but without detecting a clear effect. In conclusion, the safety of Japanese acupuncture or moxibustion was sufficiently demonstrated; however, a series of clinical trials could not offer convincing evidence to recommend the use of Japanese style acupuncture or moxibustion for preventing the common cold. Further studies are required as the present trials had several limitations.