Here we look at the claims for electroacupuncture.

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, and small electric current is then passed through them[1].

Traditional practitioners claim acupuncture helps restore the flow of energy (Qi) and so health[2].

What are the downsides of this treatment?

Risk of infection transmission[3].

Possibility of tissue damage and electrolysis[4].

Cost – most people pay for acupuncture treatment privately.

Has there been research into this treatment?

Yes, a small number of papers have been published, and a systematic review.

What does the research say?

The systematic review concluded that no convincing evidence that electroacupuncture is beneficial for treating tinnitus could be found[2].

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[2] [5] [6].

Tinnitus UK


In the UK, there is no statutory regulation of acupuncture or acupuncturists[2].

All online references accessed 8 November 2022 unless noted.

1. He M, Li X, Liu Y, et al. Electroacupuncture for Tinnitus: A Systematic Review. PLoS One.
(2016);11(3):e0150600. doi:10.1371/

2. NHS. Acupuncture www.nhs.uk/conditions/acupuncture/

3. 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.

4. Lytle CD, Thomas BM, Gordon EA, Krauthamer V . Electrostimulators for acupuncture: safety issues. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
(2000). 6 (1): 37–44. doi:10.1089/

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

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