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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 4683121, 19 pages
Review Article

Pharmacopuncture in Korea: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

1Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul 02447, Republic of Korea
2Acupuncture and Meridian Science Research Center, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul 02447, Republic of Korea
3Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, School of Korean Medicine, Pusan National University, Yangsan, Republic of Korea
4Clinical Research Division, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon, Republic of Korea

Received 24 August 2015; Revised 24 November 2015; Accepted 1 December 2015

Academic Editor: Arndt Büssing

Copyright © 2016 Jimin Park 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.


Background. Pharmacopuncture is a new form of acupuncture combining acupuncture with herbal medicine, and it has been used under various conditions in Korea. The aim of this study is to establish clinical evidence for the safety and efficacy of pharmacopuncture in Korea. Methods. We searched 9 databases and two relevant journals up to December 2014 using keywords, such as pharmacopuncture. All randomized, controlled trials evaluating pharmacopuncture under any conditions in Korea were considered. Results. Twenty-nine studies involving 1,211 participants were included. A meta-analysis of two studies on obesity showed that 5 to 8 weeks of pharmacopuncture reduced weight, waist circumference, and body mass index (BMI) more than normal saline injections. In the 5 studies of musculoskeletal conditions, 7 to 30 days of pharmacopuncture had additional effects on the reduction of pain intensity, and this benefit was maintained by limiting analyses to studies with a low risk of bias for randomization and/or allocation concealment. Conclusions. This systematic review suggests the potential of pharmacopuncture for obesity and musculoskeletal diseases. However, it is difficult to recommend pharmacopuncture as an evidence-based treatment because of methodological flaws and small sample sizes of the included studies. Further well-designed trials are needed to draw a definitive conclusion.