< I received acupuncture as a kid, and it caused my neurodermatitis to disappear for a couple of years (according to my parents). >
There are many ways human psychology can fool us into thinking ineffective treatments are effective. One of them is the "fluctuating course of disease." Almost all diseases are cyclical and run a fluctuating course. Such conditions as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, allergies, eczema, and gastrointestinal problems normally have "ups and downs." Naturally, sufferers tend to seek therapy during the downturn of any given cycle. In this way, a bogus treatment will have repeated opportunities to coincide with upturns that would have happened anyway.
Another is the "natural course of illness." Illnesses run their course and improve on their own. Occasional remissions occur even without treatment. Any treatment given at the time of natural improvement falsely gets the credit.
For over a decade, I've been investigating acupuncture and other alternative therapies. I wanted to know if any of them work. Acupuncture works in the same manner that placebos work. It's been shown to "work" to relieve pain, nausea, and other subjective symptoms, but it has never been shown to alter the natural history or course of any disease.
Studies have shown that acupuncture releases natural opioid pain relievers in the brain: endorphins. Veterinarians have pointed out that loading a horse into a trailer or throwing a stick for a dog also releases endorphins. Hitting yourself on the thumb with a hammer would probably release endorphins too, and it would take your mind off your headache.
There are plenty of studies showing that acupuncture works for subjective symptoms like pain and nausea. But there are several things that throw serious doubt on their findings. The results are inconsistent, with some studies finding an effect and others not. The higher quality studies are less likely to find an effect. Most of the studies are done by believers in acupuncture. Many subjects would not volunteer for an acupuncture trial unless they had a bias towards believing it might work.
In George Ulett's research, he found that applying an electrical current to the skin of the wrist worked just as well as inserting needles, and one point on the wrist worked for symptoms anywhere in the body.
Guess what? It doesn't matter where you put the needle. It doesn't matter whether you use a needle at all. In the best controlled studies, only one thing mattered: whether the patients believed they were getting acupuncture. If they believed they got the real thing, they got better pain relief...whether they actually got acupuncture or not! If they got acupuncture but believed they didn't, it didn't work. If they didn't get it but believed they did, it did work.
You can try it if you want, and you might get a good placebo response, but there's no evidence you'll get anything more.