Is Acupuncture Effective for Improving Insulin Resistance? A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis


This study aimed to evaluate the clinical efficacy of acupuncture for intervening insulin resistance (IR) by meta-analysis of related randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Studies published prior to 31 January 2018 were searched on Pubmed, Medline, Cochrane Library, Embase databases and Chinese databases. Only RCTs, which examined acupuncture as the sole or adjunctive treatment for IR-related diseases, were included. The primary outcome was homeostasis model assessment for insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). The secondary outcomes consisted of fasting blood glucose (FBG), fasting insulin (FINS) and 2-h postprandial blood glucose (2h-PBG). The differences between groups were reported as mean differences (MD). All statistical analyses were performed using RevMan software 5.3. After carefully screening relevant studies, 9 RCTs involving 562 patients (279 in experimental group and 283 in control group) were enrolled in this study. The pooled results showed that acupuncture had significant effects on HOMA-IR (MD 0.70, 95% CI 0.04 to 1.35, P=0.04<0.05), FINS (MD 3.35 mU/L, 95% CI 1.99 to 4.7, P<0.001) and 2h-PBG (MD 1.03 mmol/L, 95% CI 0.25 to 1.82, P=0.01). However, the differences in FBG were not significant (MD 0.28 mmol/L, 95% CI–0.28 to 0.84, P=0.32>0.05). The present meta-analysis indicated that acupuncture can help to improve IR to a certain extent, which remains to be confirmed by further high-quality RCTs.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Feng-xia Liang.

Additional information

This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81774420 and No. 81574065).

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Song, Aq., Zhang, Yp., Chen, R. et al. Is Acupuncture Effective for Improving Insulin Resistance? A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. CURR MED SCI 38, 1109–1116 (2018).

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Key words

  • acupuncture
  • insulin resistance
  • randomized controlled trials
  • meta-analysis