Validation of a Non-Invasive Sham Technique

  • End date
    Nov 30, 2022
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Nigde Omer Halisdemir University
Updated on 26 April 2022
Accepts healthy volunteers


The objective of this study is to develop, describe in detail and validate a feasible, cheap and convenient non-invasive sham acupuncture technique in order to use safely and repeatedly in future studies. Additionally, the reactions of the volunteers to sham needles in different positions and in different parts of the body will be investigated.


Following the Second World War, the evidence based research is the keystone of modern medicine applications. Randomized, placebo controlled and double/triple blinded clinical studies are the sine qua non of evidence based medicine. As a matter of course acupuncture which was defined as traditional and the main outcome was the clinical effects throughout the centuries, had its share form the tremendous evolution. For the past decades, studies on acupuncture are designed and prosecuted on the basis of randomized and placebo controlled trials.

In clinical trials for invasive modalities, placebo is the procedure that mimics the original procedure in order to provide objective comparison. These procedures are called as sham techniques and in acupuncture sham techniques are divided into two categories as invasive sham procedures and non-invasive sham procedures. Non-invasive sham is a technique that is designed to create a minor sensory stimulation in the absence of skin penetration using a placebo needle or any device imitating needle. In acupuncture practice it is a fact that sham procedures are non-inert and even can exert high therapeutic effect. Consequently, the main concern regarding the randomized controlled trials on acupuncture is that false negative rates might be misleadingly higher than acceptable values. The clinical therapeutic effects of non-invasive techniques are attributed to the activation of physiologic endogen systems due to the belief that acupuncture was applied although it was only sham. Non-invasive techniques need to be used in clinical trials designed to discriminate this mentioned effect from the point-specific effects of real acupuncture and non-specific effects obtained by skin penetration in invasive sham techniques.

The fact that sham techniques used in clinical studies are far from standardization inevitably increase the false negativity rates. In fact there are various techniques about non-invasive sham acupuncture. Blunted needles or plastic guide tube, nail, pencil point probe or even wooden skewers were used. Techniques are not described most of the time and majority of the studies lack standardization and validation of the non-invasive sham technique that is used. There are standard Park and Steinberger needles which were developed privately for non-invasive sham procedures. The advantage these latter needles is that the patient cannot see the application of the needle. Otherwise as in all non-invasive sham technique the needles do not penetrate the skin, the patient does not get the de chi sensation and the stimulation of the needles is not possible.

Condition Acupuncture
Treatment Acupuncture, Non-invasive Sham Acupuncture
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04960176
SponsorNigde Omer Halisdemir University
Last Modified on26 April 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

The healthy attendants of patients referred to General Surgery outpatient clinic

Exclusion Criteria

presence of any diagnosed disease
on any regular medication
skin reaction on the area of planned acupuncture administration
neurologic sequela
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