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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2016, Article ID 9874207, 11 pages
Review Article

Changes of Local Blood Flow in Response to Acupuncture Stimulation: A Systematic Review

1Studies of Translational Acupuncture Research, Acupuncture and Meridian Science Research Center, Kyung Hee University, 26 Kyungheedae-ro, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul 02447, Republic of Korea
2Department of Korean Medical Science, Graduate School of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
3College of Korean Medicine, Daejeon University, 62 Daehak-ro, Dong-gu, Daejeon 34520, Republic of Korea

Received 21 December 2015; Revised 29 April 2016; Accepted 11 May 2016

Academic Editor: Karin Meissner

Copyright © 2016 Song-Yi 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.


Objectives. This systematic review aimed to summarize and evaluate the findings of studies investigating the local microcirculatory effects following acupuncture stimulation. Methods. MEDLINE, EMBASE, OASIS, and Cochrane library were searched to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published before January 30, 2015. Studies demonstrating any type of microcirculation response to manual acupuncture in healthy subjects and patients were included. The risk of bias and the reliability of the experimental conditions were evaluated to determine quality assessment. Results. Eight RCTs met the inclusion criteria; there was at least one acupuncture-induced change in a microcirculatory parameter. Of the seven studies in healthy subjects, four reported significant increases in blood flow following acupuncture compared with control, whereas one other study observed reductions in microcirculation immediately after acupuncture needling. The studies that assessed patients with either fibromyalgia or trapezius myalgia found significant increases in blood flow in the skin and muscle. Additionally, the degree and duration of increases in microcirculation varied depending on the condition of the subjects and the manipulation technique. Conclusions. The current evidence regarding the local effects of acupuncture in terms of blood flow remains insufficient for reliable conclusions due to few well-designed studies. Additional well-designed studies are needed to clarify these issues.