Acupuncture has stood the test of time, having been practiced in the Orient for thousands of years. Now it is time for this ancient medicine to be tested rigorously, with the most modern research methods. Future randomized clinical trials should focus on standardizing comparison groups and treatment methods, be at least single-blinded, assess biologic mechanisms, have adequate statistical power, and involve multiple acupuncturists.

Although there is much work to be done before we can truly understand the mechanisms of acupuncture, there is a growing body of solid evidence that suggests acupuncture is safe and effective for the treatment of many conditions.

Research at the 5 Element Institute

Since the 5 Element Institute was founded in 2010, we have become a leader in changing the healthcare industry. Our mission is to build an inter-professional bridge between the acupuncture and conventional medical communities. We accomplish this by providing evidence-based treatment, cutting edge research support and continuing educational programs, rooted in traditional Five Element Acupuncture, always encouraging collaborative and integrative clinical practices. This approach enhances the patient experience, improves health outcomes, and lowers healthcare costs. We are not only interested in healthcare, but well care. Our focus is on improving our patients’ overall health through a preventive and collaborative care model.  We believe the future of healthcare and wellness-based care lies in an integrative approach, and we take great pride in leading the way.

Led by Founder/Director Michael Kowalski A.P., Dipl.Ac. (NCCAOM) and the credentialed Research Faculty, the 5 Element Institute is committed to quality research in the field of acupuncture. Our goal is to further our understanding of how best to integrate acupuncture into the conventional medical system. The Institute is proud to announce that plans are underway for a groundbreaking study on “The Cost Effectiveness of Acupuncture for Chronic Neck Pain: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial”. This pilot RCT is a collaboration between University of Florida, University of Texas MD Anderson, Utica College, and the 5 Element Institute.

Previous research efforts focused on acupuncture for cancer patients, where Director Michael Kowalski A.P. provided acupuncture in Mayo Clinic’s Breast Center as part of their successful pilot Integrative Medicine program. Acupuncture has proven to effectively manage specific symptoms of chemotherapy and radiation, thus providing better health outcomes and patient satisfaction ratings.

Further acupuncture research projects are in the works as the 5 Element Institute is seeking to collaborate with new research partners who are committed to integrity-driven studies. We offer expert Acupuncture Research Faculty, interested in advancing our knowledge of acupuncture as an effective and complementary therapy, to inform the medical and health insurance communities.

For more information on our current research projects, please Contact Us.

Research Evidence

In 1997 the National Institutes of Health (NIH) convened a Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture. An objective panel summarized the results of acupuncture research presented at the conference and concluded:

There is sufficient evidence of acupuncture’s value to expand its use into conventional medicine and to encourage further studies of its physiology and clinical value.

As a result of the NIH conference many physicians now feel comfortable referring their patients to acupuncturists, at least for the conditions specified in the consensus statement. In addition to postoperative- and chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting and postoperative dental pain, other conditions included in the consensus statement are myofascial pain, low back pain, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, headache, menstrual cramps, fibromyalgia, and asthma. Since the NIH consensus statement, these trials have had a positive effect on healthcare reimbursement for acupuncture.

PubMed lists more than 1,000 randomized controlled trials that have assessed either the efficacy (compared to placebo) or effectiveness (compared to other treatments) of acupuncture for many other conditions, such as anxiety and stress, pain management including post-operative pain, and many women’s health conditions. The NIH lists some recent resources on the webpage for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The field of acupuncture cancer research is beginning to gain momentum. For a good description of acupuncture, including an overview of recent acupuncture research on cancer by the National Cancer Institute, check out the website.