The Cochrane Collaboration is an international network of people from over 100 countries who work together to help healthcare providers, policy-makers, patients, their advocates and carers, make well-informed decisions about health care. They do this by preparing, updating, and promoting the accessibility of Cochrane Reviews – over 5,000 so far, published online in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, part of The Cochrane Library. They also prepare the largest collection of records of randomised controlled trials in the world, called CENTRAL, also published as part of The Cochrane Library.

Cochrane Reviews are systematic reviews of primary research in human health care and health policy, and are internationally recognised as the highest standard in evidence-based health care. They investigate the effects of interventions for prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. They also assess the accuracy of a diagnostic test for a given condition in a specific patient group and setting.

Cochrane reviews of acupuncture

The Cochrane Collaboration, seen as, and aiming to be the most reliable source of scientific data, also contains a great deal of evidence to support the use of acupuncture for a number of conditions.

If you have a look here at a review on Period pain for example, and via the link below, you will see many reviews find there is evidence for acupuncture being effective but are cautious in their conclusions due to small number of studies, or small study sizes. 

Yet despite the methodological problems with ‘sham’ acupuncture as a control treatment (see introduction) there is still evidence that acupuncture can be of benefit, for example in migraine headache and tension headache,

Cochrane reviews of Chinese Herbal Medicine

As in the case of acupuncture, herbalists are legally limited in what they can claim to treat so if you want to read further about research the Cochrane Chinese herbs, search in the library of systematic reviews contains evidence of intervention benefits, i.e. amelioration, but not always necessarily cure in some conditions.

Herbal medicine ought to be more suitable for placebo controlled trials, however very rarely are studies designed in a way that allows for the individualisation of treatment so central to the Chinese medicine way of looking at health. Therefore what we often find is the studies included in reviews are for single herb extracts, all given to people with the same biomedical disease label, but with no attention to diagnosis within the Chinese medical system through which a practitioner would actually make their choice of prescription. Despite this methodological bias authors still find positive results sometimes.