Auricular Acupuncture for Anxiety in Health Care Volunters Randomized Crossover Study Comparing Real and Sham Needles



Auricular Acupuncture for Anxiety in Health Care Volunters Randomized Crossover Study Comparing Real and Sham Needles

Journal Publication

Medical Acupuncture







Research Type



Cross-Over Design
Auricular Acupuncture
Individualized Acupuncture Protocol
Symptom Based Point Selection
Non Penetrating Sham, Mechanical
Verum Acupoint Control
Restricted Modalities, Acupuncture Only


Introduction: Several reports in the literature indicate that auricular acupuncture/acupressure is effective for reducing anxiety in the perioperative period, during ambulance transport, and before dental treatment.
Objective: The goal of this study was to assess the anxiolytic-sedative effect of ear acupuncture on health care volunteers, comparing the effect of real and sham needles in a randomized, single-blinded, crossover study.

Methods: Twenty health care volunteers (11 males, 9 females, ages 24– 44, average 33.5 years) were enrolled and treated in a random order, twice 2 weeks apart, with real and sham needles. The needles were applied for 20 minutes and then removed. The anxiolytic effect was measured, before and after treatment, with a numeric rating scale (NRS) anxiety score and a State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI-Y) State anxiety score. The sedative effect of acupuncture was scored with the Bispectral Index System (BIS) at baseline and during the treatment at 5, 10, 15, and 20 minutes.

Results: When comparing real and sham conditions at baseline, there were no differences in NRS, STAI-Y, and BIS values. A significantly higher reduction of anxiety was, however, observed when applying real needles, both for NRS (p<0.01) and STAI-Y values (p<0.005). When comparing real and sham conditions, the BIS value did not vary after 5 minutes, but, after 10, 15, and 20 minutes, a significant decrease in anxiety was observed during the real-needle application.

Conclusions: This study showed that real auricular, compared to sham auricular treatment, had a specific and measurable effect on state anxiety in health care volunteers. Further studies are needed for identifying the various zones of the auricle associated with anxiety.



Frequency of Treatment


Time in Treatment

2 Weeks

has health condition studied

Mental Disorders

has study population number


Item sets