For acupuncture to work, you don't actually have to put in the needles:
The acupuncture study of 215 patients who were undergoing radiation treatment in the abdomen or pelvic region chose by lot one of these two acupuncture types.
109 received traditional acupuncture, with needles penetrating the skin in particular points. According to ancient Chinese tradition, the needle is twisted until a certain 'needle sensation' arises. The other 106 patients received a simulated acupuncture instead, with a telescopic, blunt placebo needle that merely touches the skin.
The acupuncture was performed by physiotherapists two or three times a week throughout the five-week radiation period.
Afterwards 95 percent of the patients in both groups felt that the acupuncture treatment had helped relieve nausea, and 67 percent had experienced other positive effects such as improved sleep, brighter mood, and less pain.
The final study shows that patients that received traditional or simulated acupuncture felt considerably better than the group that had only received care following ordinary routines. The difference, 37 percent compared with 63 percent of nauseous patients, is statistically significant. On the other hand, there was no difference between the two acupuncture groups.
The effects therefore seem not be due to the traditional acupuncture method, as was previously thought, but rather a result of the increased care the treatment entails. Patients could converse with the physiotherapists, they were touched, and they had extra time for rest and relaxation. (Emphasis mine.)
It would appear that acupuncture works by giving the patients some extra TLC, rather than stabbing metal into your chakras or chi or whatever other mumbo jumbo is used to justify this nonsense. Placebo, anyone?
This reminds me of the study of magnetotherapy, where there was no difference between the iron magnets and the wooden ones.
Is it possible that the non-punctured patients benefited from the added pressure being placed on these points (i.e. accupressure)?
Also - it appears these studies aren't (yet) peer-reviewed (the press release says they're being 'reported in her doctoral dissertation.'