Abstract ID: 2215

Primary Topic: Integrative medicine delivery models
Secondary Topic: State of the science/evidence base for integrative modalities

Role of Acupuncture in Integrative Medicine
Chongbin Zhu, MD, PhD; Sanjay Reddy, MD; Helene M Langevin , MD; Melinda Ring, MD, Osher Collaborative for Integrative Medicine, Chicago, IL, United States; Helen Ye, MS, LAc, , San Francisco, CA, United States

Late Breaker: No


Background: Acupuncture, as a specialty in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), has been increasingly available within conventional health care settings. There is growing evidence supporting the efficacy of acupuncture in conditions ranging from chronic pain to mood disorders. While more high-quality studies are warranted, the value of acupuncture as a component of health care is increasingly recognized by integrative medicine practitioners and patients. Integrative medicine (IM) treatment plans often include recommendations for acupuncture. The role of acupuncture as part of the system of IM, however, has not been clearly defined.  Program description: This proposal is to address and explore acupuncture-based model(s) of collaborative intervention for IM practitioners. Acupuncture is classically described as treating the whole person and will be explored on multiple levels. From our practices, we observe that acupuncture can improve symptoms, enhance quality of life, promote well-being, reduce unwanted side effects of conventional treatments and shorten recovery time. We propose to explore several models of acupuncture-based integrative intervention, and models for inclusion within inpatient and outpatient settings. We also propose to discuss the challenge of acupuncture-based models in research, education and policy or regulation. Conclusion: Acupuncture-based integrative practice in our current health care setting will benefit from guidelines. The challenges of acupuncture in the context of practice, research and policy will be addressed, with recommendations to define its role in integrative medicine.  




Although acupuncture has been proven effective in several pain conditions and is receiving increased attention due to the opioid crisis, the role of this unique modality in integrative medicine has yet to be defined. Acupuncture is most often used in collaboration with other interventions; however, there are no guidelines for integrative medicine or conventional health care practitioners to refer patients to acupuncture-based integrative interventions. Additionally, there are significant challenges for acupuncture in research, education and regulation/policy. In research, appropriate acupuncture controls and blinding can be problematic. In education, acupuncture, or integrative medicine as a whole, has not been endorsed by a majority of medical schools, although it is being increasingly discussed. In regulation/policy, the majority of insurance providers do not cover effective acupuncture treatment in most states in the USA, hindering the public access to acupuncture-based integrative intervention. The resolution to the aforementioned issues requires a collaborative effort from different fields.  Our proposal is to address the above aspects to create recommendations that can influence policy and is relevant to the conference theme: collaboration in action.


Participants will know the role of acupuncture-based intervention in integrative medicine, commonly used models of acupuncture-based therapy, and possible mechanisms. They will also have increased clarity about the current challenges acupuncture practice faces in clinical care, research and education. Through a panel discussion with audience engagement, speakers and participants will help work out some resolution via this program, or provide direction for future resolution.

Methods/Session Format

A 90 minute panel discussion of clinicians, researchers and educators experienced in acupuncture from the Osher Collaborative: 

0-15min Presentation- Overview of acupuncture in the United States today

15-30min Discussion of clinical practice recommendations and challenges

30-35min Questions and comments from audience

35-50min Discussion of research recommendations and challenges

50-55min Questions and comments from audience

55-70min Discussion of education, policy recommendations and challenges

70-75min Questions and comments from audience

75min-90min Summarizing discussion with future directions and recommendations


1.To define the role of acupuncture in integrative medicine and general health care.

2. To elaborate models of  acupuncture-based integrative intervention.

3. To address challenges of acupuncture practice in clinic, education and research. 

Three Anticipated Questions or Issues
What is the role of acupuncture in integrative medicine and today's health care?
What are the appropriate models of integrative intervention based on acupuncture for general health care and different chronic conditions?
How to address the challenge for acupuncture-based integrative practice in the current health care system?