Lasers in Medical Science

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 69–80 | Cite as

Laser acupuncture: past, present, and future

  • Peter Whittaker
Original Article


Laser acupuncture is defined as the stimulation of traditional acupuncture points with low-intensity, nonthermal laser irradiation. Although the therapeutic use of laser acupuncture is rapidly gaining in popularity, objective evaluation of its efficacy in published studies is difficult because treatment parameters such as wavelength, irradiance, and beam profile are seldom fully described. The depth of laser energy transmission, likely an important determinant of efficacy, is governed not only by these parameters, but also by skin properties such as thickness, age, and pigmentation—factors which have also received little consideration in laser acupuncture. Despite the frequently equivocal nature of the published laser studies, recent evidence of visual cortex activation by laser acupuncture of foot points, together with the known ability of laser irradiation to induce cellular effects at subthermal thresholds, provides impetus for further research.


Acupuncture Collagen Laser therapy Skin 



A review of such diverse literature, sometimes in non-English-language publications, would not have been possible without assistance. Therefore, I would like to thank the following for their help in locating or translating references: Dr Petra Camborova, Dr Jochen Müller-Ehmsen, Dr Karin Przyklenk, and Dr Katarina Skalova. In addition, I would like to thank the authors who responded to e-mail requests for information and reprints, the reviewers for their thorough and thoughtful critique, and Michelle Maynard for her assistance with Fig. 2. This work was done during P.W.’s tenure as an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association. Supported in part by a grant from the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Whittaker
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Emergency Medicine and AnesthesiologyUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA

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