Acupuncture vs. Sleeping Pills for Insomnia
While sleeping pills are associated with a raft of serious adverse effects and even death, acupuncture has proved to be a remarkably safe form of alternative medicine. Not only has the technique proved to be better than either no treatment or “sham” acupuncture it has also outperformed powerful sleep-inducing (hypnotic) drugs. In a high-quality six-week study published in the international journal Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers compared the effects of true acupuncture, fake acupuncture and the hypnotic drug estazolam in 180 insomniacs. Those who received either acupuncture or the sleeping pill had significantly greater improvement in their sleep compared with those in the control (fake treatment) group. “Improvements of sleep quality, total sleep time, sleep efficiency [and] daytime functioning achieved in the [acupuncture] group were well maintained to follow-up,” the researchers noted, “whereas the effect of sham acupuncture and estazolam was not significant when the intervention ended.
“In one of the largest, involving 46 randomized controlled trials (or ‘RCTs’, considered the ‘gold standard’ of scientific testing) and more than 3,800 patients with insomnia, acupuncture was significantly superior to no treatment, fake acupuncture and sleeping pills for boosting sleep quality and duration. Two surveys published in the British Medical Journal in 2001 one of traditional acupuncturists and the other of doctors who practice acupuncture concluded that the risk of a serious adverse reaction to acupuncture is less than one in 10,000 treatments. With its impressive safety record and the number of positive studies of acupuncture for insomnia so far, we’d say that the TCM technique beats sleeping pills hands down.