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Sham acupuncture needles – how do they perform?

Somewhere around 2002, acupuncture expert Professor Jongbae Jay Park, KMD, PhD, Lac (now at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, US) developed the Park Sham Device (PSD) – a telescoping faux needle, or acu-non-puncture needle [pictured]. It was subsequently evaluated by a research team from The University of Exeter and Plymouth, UK, and the results published in Acupuncture in Medicine, 20(4):168-174 ‘Validating a New Non-penetrating Sham Acupuncture Device: Two Randomised Controlled Trials’ Based on the experimental tests the team formed two conclusions:

“We conclude that the newly developed PSD is valid as a control procedure for trials of the efficacy of acupuncture, or, more specifically, the needle penetration aspect of treatment.”

“Our second conclusion arising from this work is perhaps more profound. Naïve volunteers cannot distinguish between real needles and the sham device, yet are much more likely to experience de qi with the former than the latter.”

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