Acupuncture Not Effective in Fibromyalgia?


Decennial ME/CFS patient
Portland, OR
Was it the Kevin Sullivan production? With Colleen Dewhurst as Marilla and Megan Fellows as Anne? If so, own it and can probably quote it word for word. It's a truly visually luscious bit of filmmaking. :)


Senior Member
When my i.c. was really bad I tried acupuncture. I went to a Chinese woman who helped others. I went into excruciating pain and couldn't void. Then I tried two other acupuncturists. One didn't help but I didn't get worse. The other one told me she used different methods. I had the same excruciating pain, couldn't void and ended up at the E.R. My i.c. was well controlled when I sought out acupuncture for CFS. I went to a practitioner who works with a co-cure recommended doc. Guess what: my i.c. flared on the table; I started screaming and he ran away and left me. Later he called because I had not paid for the session. I told him to sue me. I met with the head of the New England School of Acupuncture because I thought if it can make me worse, it can make me better. He told me two things: I was thinking Western medicine and why did I keep trying. He said he wouldn't keep at it and said I was either very stupid or very persistent.


Senior Member
Olympic Peninsula, Washington
Totally agree with short needling, practitioner skill level and understanding

That's a funny bit about your friend who doesn't believe in qi but believes in psychic phenomena! My acupuncturist and I spoke about mitochondrial dysfunction (I always have questions, questions, questions...) and he said that he very much considers qi deficiency to be the TCM version of mitochondrial dysfunction. Of course, there are many other systems that can create qi deficiency as well. I feel lucky to have a practitioner who was premed and really, really gets Western medicine as well and can speak to the best and worst aspects of both.

Interesting about short needling times. I do think that these studies conducted with different practitioners (from different schools I would think) is like comparing ten different antibiotics to treat an infection; they are so different! As one poster noted, her acupuncturist had just returned from Japan, and I have had 2 practitioners (both the only useful ones) who primarily used the Japanese needling style. For comparison, I saw someone who used the Taiwanese style, and it left me destroyed. I think Japanese methods are known to be the gentlest.

Two methods that I've learned about since working with my newest practitioner (1.5 years, 4 years with person before that) are contact needling and some type of mini-jumper-cable treatment. Contact needling is (I can't say exactly as I have my eyes closed and/or can't see) a method wherein the acupuncturist basically just barely touches the point, holding the needle, and then removes it pretty quickly. He uses it when my exhaustion is such that more needling would cause a worsening of symptoms. The jumper-cable thing (don't know the terminology for it) is so interesting. He will put needles in my forearms or wrists and ankle or feet and attach them with thin wires that clasp like small jumper cables. It makes me laugh every time! It might sound uncomfortable, but they are very lightweight and the needles are taped down and there really is no sensation of being pinned and wired. All I know is that it can turn things around quickly.

One thing I disagree with is the advice I received for years: 5 element acupuncture is the best for CFS/FM. Nothing against it, but it's sort of the difference between counseling versus antibiotics for an infection. Both will help to some degree, but one can deal specifically with the problem at hand. I do criticize TCM (and most alt. med.) because they don't do much to weed out the inept in their fields. It all comes down to time, money, trial & error.

I wish I was better versed on links (how to do them, when it's appropriate, copyright issues, etc.) but there were a series of two articles in Acupuncture Today written about CFS/FM patients by Kaleb Montgomery and they are the Traditional Chinese Medical equivalent of a Bill-Reeves-type ignorance. The first article mentions CFS/FM toward the end and the second is devoted entirely to it. This guy sets the stage for any angry reaction by a patient being evidence of the truth of his theory. Mr. Montgomery really shows his ignorance all over the place though--not sure why they published these! Here's to hoping I don't ruin anyone's weekend!
I'm going to attempt to link:

People who write about and hypothesize about this population really lay out their issues when writing their version of the truth of CFS/FM/ME. I think that's something remarkable about CFS/ME: It's not so much the patients' psyches being discussed and exposed, but the "healthy" person's.


Senior Member
NorthEastern USA

I had treatments by an acupuncturist years ago. Hard to remember, I went I believe twice a week, then once a week for ten/twelve weeks. No improvement.

Alas, I probably did not go often enough/long to make an appreciable difference?? The treatments were expensive.

As with anything else, I agree with Michelle, in that practioners vary in degree of skill. Also, would the duration of the individual's problems dictate how many treatments are necessary to see improvement???? A young girl was treated by this same acupuncturist and did seemingly get relief. She had been symptomatic for about six months. I was diagnosed close to 30 years ago.

I have had more pain relief with myofascial release treatments, but alas, it is necessary to go on a regular basis.

chinese ME/CFS accupuncture study

I just got this from co-cure.

[Randomized controlled study on influence of acupuncture for life
quality of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome]
[Article in Chinese]

Journal: Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2009 Oct;29(10):780-4.

Authors: Wang JJ, Song YJ, Wu ZC, Chu XO, Wang QM, Wei LN, Wang XJ, Meng H.

Affiliation: Hospital of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, China Academy
of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing 100700, China. <>

NLM Citation: PMID: 19873911

OBJECTIVE: To observe effects of acupuncture on quality of life of
patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

METHODS: Randomized, controlled and single-blinded study method was
used, 70 cases were divided into an observation group and a control
group, 35 cases in each group. The observation group was treated with
acupuncture at Baihui (GV 20), Danzhong (CV 17), Zhongwan (CV 12),
Qihai (CV 6), Guanyuan (CV 4), Hegu (LI 4), Zusanli (ST 36), etc.;
the control group was treated with acupuncture at non-meridian points
(2 cm to the acupoints), thrice a week. The treatment was given for
14 times. The World Health Organization Quality of Life (WHOQOL-BREF)
scale was used to evaluate the patients' quality of life before and
after treatment.

RESULTS: The physiological field, individuals own perception of his
health condition and total score were significantly improved after
treatment in the observation group (all P<0.05); there were no
obvious changes in the psychology, social relationships, environment
and subjective feelings about the quality of life (all P>0.05). The
score of the environmental field in the control group was
significantly decreased compared to that before treatment (P<0.05),
and there were no significant changes in the other scores. There were
no adverse effects in patients.

CONCLUSION: Acupuncture can improve the quality of life of CFS
patients, especially in physiological field and the individual
perception to his well being. Acupuncture has high safety, and the
acupoints has high specific degree than non-meridian points.

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acupuncture for fibromyalgia

I think it is very true that the practitioner is very very important in acupuncture. I recently was talking to someone who had tried it and said they didn't like it because it hurt. That shocked me, as I never once experience any pain with the acupuncture needles. If anything, it was always a pleasant and relaxing experience. The needles were hair thin and I barely could feel them go in. Only if they were manipulated to reach a particular spot (like between my toes) did I ever feel the needle, and even then it was not pain that I felt, just a "tingle".

I went several years ago to an amazing practitioner and found it extremely helpful on many levels. Not only did it help my fibromyalgia pain generally by helping me to be more relaxed, but she addressed specific issues I had as we went along (such as a bronchial infection, or menstrual cramps, or tension headaches.) She never specifically said she was going to cure or even just address my fibromyalgia symptoms, but rather focused on my whole being and body to try to bring my body and brain back in balance.

But most amazing, and I admit it sounds extremely kooky, was when she did NAET to work on my allergies. It was crazy, but I trusted her, was also under the care of an extremely competent doctor at the time, and I had the money to spend to give it a try. I have to say, it really worked. I hardly ever had pollen allergies afterward, and even to now, I have much less reactions to many of my previous triggers, whether they be true allergies or sensitivities (such as to perfumes and such.) I was allergy tested a few years after, and I tested negative to some allergies that I had always had (such as peanuts), but also tested positive to many many allergens, so it certainly didn't miraculously cure all of my allergies, but I have to admit, in many ways my allergies have been abated quite a bit. Whether it is coincidence, aging, or what, or was actually the NAET, I can't say. But the upshot is that it certainly did my now harm and was a pleasant experience that seems to have made me more healthy in many ways.

I am sure it is not for everyone - it is expensive and requires a commitment of time, and it really does seem rather kooky (you can google it to find more information). I still believe that what is happening with acupuncture and this NAET technique is that the energy in your body is being "rewired".

Personally, I believe that my allergies, MCS and fibromyalgia pain is truly a problem of my brain not responding correctly to various stimuli. If you believe that, then acupuncture to help treat that "wiring problem" makes a lot of sense.

It also helped that the practitioner was kind, gentle, understanding and as a result their was a lot of support and positive talk therapy involved - always a good thing, in my opinion.

I hope this information is helpful.


(btw - in case someone asks, it was Marilyn Adams and she has links to good resources on her web site )