Here we look at the claims for acupuncture.

Version: 2.0 Last updated: April 2023 To be reviewed: November 2025

Treatment details


Alternative medicine



Some potential for harm



No or limited evidence that it is effective



Claims for treatment

Reduces or removes the perception of tinnitus.

What is the treatment?

Acupuncture needles are inserted at points in the body, which traditional practitioners claim helps restore the flow of energy (Qi) and so health[1].

What are the downsides of this treatment?

Risk of infection transmission[2].

Cost – most people pay for acupuncture treatment privately.

Has there been research into this treatment?

Yes, there have been a number of papers published, and these have been examined in several systematic reviews.

What does the research say?

An early systematic review showed that two unblinded studies showed a positive result, whereas four blinded studies showed no significant effect of acupuncture[3].

A more recent systematic review concluded that English studies reported negative results but that the Chinese studies seemed to indicate some relief from tinnitus could be found. However, many of these studies had methodological flaws[4].

An umbrella review concluded that it is not possible to say that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of tinnitus[5].


Acupuncture has not been shown to be effective as a treatment for tinnitus in rigorous randomized controlled trials.

No recommendation for its use can be made, as per current tinnitus guidelines[1] [6] [7].

Tinnitus UK


In the UK, there is no statutory regulation of acupuncture or acupuncturists[1].


All online references accessed 7 November 2022 unless noted.

1. NHS. Acupuncture

2. Xu S, Wang L, Cooper E, Zhang M, Manheimer E, Berman B, Shen X, Lao L. Adverse events of acupuncture: a systematic review of case reports. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (2013) 1–15.

3. Park J, White AR, Ernst E. Efficacy of Acupuncture as a Treatment for Tinnitus: A Systematic Review. JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.
(2000) 126(4):489–492. doi:10.1001/

4. Liu F, Han X, Li Y, Yu S. Acupuncture in the treatment of tinnitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. European Archives of Otorhinolaryngology. (2016)
Feb;273(2):285-94. doi: 10.1007/

5. Donelli D, Castellucci A, Firenzuoli F, & Antonelli M. Efficacy of acupuncture for tinnitus: an umbrella review.
Longhua Chinese Medicine, (2020). 3.

6. Tunkel DE, Bauer CA, Sun GH, et al. Clinical Practice Guideline: Tinnitus. Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. (2014) 151(2_suppl): S1-S40.

7. Cima RFF, Mazurek B, Haider H. et al. A multidisciplinary European guideline for tinnitus: diagnostics, assessment, and treatment. HNO 67, 10–42 (2019).