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A narrative review of acupuncture treatment for Autism Spectrum disorder

A narrative review of acupuncture treatment for Autism Spectrum disorder
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Complementary Medicine: Education and Research

Vol.1, No. 1, pp. 38-58, Feb 2024

Received Sep 5, 2023; Revised Nov 24, 2023; Accepted 20 Dec, 2023

3006-273X / © 2024 by CMER

Published by Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Association of Africa. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license.

A narrative review of acupuncture treatment for Autism Spectrum disorder


Goodwin, C.L.[1]

1. Affiliation: Dr. Caitlin Goodwin Homeopath 

[1]Corresponding author: Dr. Caitlin Goodwin Homeopath. Physical address: 1 Laubscher Street, Glenvista, Johannesburg, South Africa. Email:

To cite this article:

Goodwin, C.L. (2024). A narrative review of acupuncture treatment for Autism Spectrum disorder, Complementary Medicine: Education and Research, 1(1), 38-58.


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterised by impaired reciprocal social communication and interaction, as well as restrictive behaviours, interests, and activities. Researchers estimate that approximately 2% of the South African population is affected by ASD. The prevalence of ASD in South Africa remains unknown, and minimal research has been conducted within the schooling systems to accurately inform the rates, distribution, and profile of needs for children with this disorder. The aim of this study was to conduct a narrative review of acupuncture treatment for ASD. A literature search targeted sources with the highest level of evidence and relevance to the topic. Searches were conducted on credible databases, focusing on high-quality publications with the most up-to-date information. A small number of studies (n=6) met the criteria for this narrative review. The studies reported statistically significant improvements in areas such as cognition, comprehension, social interaction, behaviours, speech and language, as well as food and noise sensitivity. Treatment was well tolerated, with minimal adverse effects. It may be concluded that there is evidence supporting the efficacy of acupuncture treatment for ASD; however, the quality of the studies has been relatively poor, and the sample sizes were insufficient. Research on this topic is still in its early stages, and these findings need confirmation through further high-quality research.

Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorder; acupuncture; electroacupuncture; auricular acupuncture; scalp acupuncture; laser acupuncture.


A special acknowledgement to Dr Radmilla Razlog, who meticulously advised the researcher on this narrative review.

Author’s Disclosure Statement

The study wasn’t funded by any organization or institution. The author declared that she had no financial or personal relationships that might have inappropriately influenced her in writing this article.


The author declared no conflicts of interest.


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