Sham acupuncture works just as well as the real thing, suggesting that 2,000 years of development of the ancient Chinese practice have counted for nothing.

Sham acupuncture works just as well as the real thing, suggesting that 2,000 years of development of the ancient Chinese practice have counted for nothing.

Doctors who treated patients with migraine using acupuncture, placing needles at selected points on the skin, found it was no more effective than sticking pins in randomly.

Acupuncturists say there are 365 pressure points that must be stimulated for the therapy to heal. These are said to tap into around a dozen body-energy channels or meridians.

The study involved 302, mostly female, migraine patients in Germany. Some had real acupuncture over eight weeks and others had needles in non-acupuncture points. In both cases, half the patients reported a reduction in the number of days they had headaches by 50 per cent. In a control group with no treatment, only 15 per cent experienced a similar reduction.

The study, led by Klaus Linde of the Centre for Complementary Medicine at Technische University in Munich, was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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