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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 615857, 12 pages
Review Article

Acupuncture for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials and Prospective Clinical Trials

1School of Korean Medicine, Pusan National University, Yangsan 626-870, Republic of Korea
2Division of Clinical Medicine, School of Korean Medicine, Pusan National University, Yangsan 626-870, Republic of Korea
3Samueli Institute, 1737 King Street, Suite 600, Alexandria, VA 22314, USA
4Department of Neuropsychiatry & Herbal Resources, Professional Graduate School of Korean Medicine, Won-Kwang University, Iksan 570-749, Republic of Korea
5Department of Neuropsychiatry, Korean Medical Hospital, Pusan National University, Yangsan 626-789, Republic of Korea

Received 9 August 2012; Accepted 15 October 2012

Academic Editor: Hans-Christian Deter

Copyright © 2013 Young-Dae Kim 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.


To evaluate the current evidence for effectiveness of acupuncture for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the form of a systematic review, a systematic literature search was conducted in 23 electronic databases. Grey literature was also searched. The key search terms were “acupuncture” and “PTSD.” No language restrictions were imposed. We included all randomized or prospective clinical trials that evaluated acupuncture and its variants against a waitlist, sham acupuncture, conventional therapy control for PTSD, or without control. Four randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 2 uncontrolled clinical trials (UCTs) out of 136 articles in total were systematically reviewed. One high-quality RCT reported that acupuncture was superior to waitlist control and therapeutic effects of acupuncture and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) were similar based on the effect sizes. One RCT showed no statistical difference between acupuncture and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). One RCT reported a favorable effect of acupoint stimulation plus CBT against CBT alone. A meta-analysis of acupuncture plus moxibustion versus SSRI favored acupuncture plus moxibustion in three outcomes. This systematic review and meta-analysis suggest that the evidence of effectiveness of acupuncture for PTSD is encouraging but not cogent. Further qualified trials are needed to confirm whether acupuncture is effective for PTSD.