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Research on acupuncture and sleep apnea

Last updated: 12 March, 2017
by The Grove Chinese Medicine, The Grove Chinese Medicine

The Clinical Effect of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.

“Compared to control groups, both manual acupuncture (MA) and electro-acupuncture (EA) were more effective in improving apnea/hypopnea (AHI) and mean SaO2 (ie the amount of oxygen bound to hemoglobin in arterial blood). In addition, MA could further improve apnea index and hypopnea index compared to control.”

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:8792167. doi: 10.1155/2016/8792167. Epub 2016 Apr 4.

Lv ZT, Jiang WX, Huang JM, Zhang JM, Chen AM.

PURPOSE: This study aims to determine the clinical efficacy of acupuncture therapy in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.

METHODS: A systematic literature search was conducted in five databases including PubMed, EMBASE, CENTRAL, Wanfang, and CNKI to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on the effect of acupuncture therapy for obstructive sleep apnea. Meta-analysis was conducted using the RevMan version 5.3 software.

RESULTS: Six RCTs involving 362 subjects were included in our study. Compared with control groups, manual acupuncture (MA) was more effective in the improvement of apnea/hypopnea index (AHI), apnea index, hypopnea index, and mean SaO2. Electroacupuncture (EA) was better in improving the AHI and apnea index when compared with control treatment, but no statistically significant differences in hypopnea index and mean SaO2 were found. In the comparison of MA and nasal continuous positive airway pressure, the results favored MA in the improvement of AHI; there was no statistical difference in the improvement in mean SaO2. No adverse events associated with acupuncture therapy were documented.


Compared to control groups, both MA and EA were more effective in improving AHI and mean SaO2. In addition, MA could further improve apnea index and hypopnea index compared to control.

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