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The Acupuncture Now Foundation has put togther an informative video about the benefits of acupuncture for treating lower back pain.
The study referenced in this video found that acupuncture was twice as effective and safer than conventional medical trreatment for treating lower back pain.
In Australia it is recommended that you check to see if your acupuncturist is registered with the Chinese Medicine Board
Trigeminal neuralgia can be a horribly debilitating illness, where even the act of eating or wind brushing on the cheek can cause excruciating pain. A recent study published in the Clinical Journal of Chinese Medicine, found that acupuncture was as effective, if not slightly more so, than the use of Tegretol (Carbamazepine). This 80 participant study showed that acupuncture was a promising alternative to pharmaceutics. 70% of the acupuncture only group reported a cure according to the researchers. More rigorous research needs to be undertaken in this area, but this is a promising start
Background Depression is a significant cause of morbidity. Many patients have communicated an interest in non-pharmacological therapies to their general practitioners. Systematic reviews of acupuncture and counselling for depression in primary care have identified limited evidence. The aim of this study was to evaluate acupuncture versus usual care and counselling versus usual care for patients who continue to experience depression in primary care.
Methods and Findings In a randomised controlled trial, 755 patients with depression (Beck Depression Inventory BDI-II score ≥20) were recruited from 27 primary care practices in the North of England. Patients were randomised to one of three arms using a ratio of 2:2:1 to acupuncture (302), counselling (302), and usual care alone (151). The primary outcome was the difference in mean Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) scores at 3 months with secondary analyses over 12 months follow-up. Analysis was by intention-to-treat.
PHQ-9 data were available for 614 patients at 3 months and 572 patients at 12 months. Patients attended a mean of ten sessions for acupuncture and nine sessions for counselling. Compared to usual care, there was a statistically significant reduction in mean PHQ-9 depression scores at 3 months for acupuncture (−2.46, 95% CI −3.72 to −1.21) and counselling (−1.73, 95% CI −3.00 to −0.45), and over 12 months for acupuncture (−1.55, 95% CI −2.41 to −0.70) and counselling (−1.50, 95% CI −2.43 to −0.58). Differences between acupuncture and counselling were not significant. In terms of limitations, the trial was not designed to separate out specific from non-specific effects. No serious treatment-related adverse events were reported.
Conclusions In this randomised controlled trial of acupuncture and counselling for patients presenting with depression, after having consulted their general practitioner in primary care, both interventions were associated with significantly reduced depression at 3 months when compared to usual care alone.
Objective To assess the effectiveness of acupuncture combined with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for patients with depression in hospital using a pragmatic randomised controlled trial.
Methods 76 patients with depression were randomly divided into two groups (randomisation ratio 2:1 for treatment and control groups (CGs), respectively) and 71 patients completed the study. The 45 patients in the treatment group (TG) underwent acupuncture and received an SSRI and the 26 patients in the CG received an SSRI only. The 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS-17) was used to quantitatively assess patients after 1, 2, 4 and 6 weeks of treatment.
The mean (SD) baseline total HDRS scores were 22.2 (0.60) and 22.1 (0.33) in the TG and CG, respectively. After the first week of treatment the HDRS score for the TG was reduced to 15.6 (0.81), significantly different from the score of 18.3 (0.55) for the CG, p<0.05. This significant difference was maintained to the end of the 6-week treatment period, when HDRS scores had fallen to 6.3 (0.49) and 8.2 (0.35) for the TG and CG, respectively.
Conclusions Acupuncture combined with an SSRI showed a statistically significant benefit for patients with depression in hospital over the 6-week period compared with SSRIs alone. This reduction in symptoms started in the first week and continued throughout the 6 weeks of treatment.
Shin Splints also known as Tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) or Tibial periostitis or shin splints is a common injury that affects athletes who engage in running sports or physical activity. This condition is characterized by pain in the lower part of the leg between the knee and the ankle. Research of the efficacy of acupuncture in treating shin splints was published in the Journal of Chinese Medicine in 2002. The Abstract can be found below.
Acupuncture & tibial stress syndrome (shin splints)
Method: Forty athletes, ages 18-45 with tibial stress syndrome (shin splints), were analyzed using subjective questioning based on a ten point Likert-type pain scale that was used to assess pain level. The scale ranged from None (1) to Distressing (5) to Unbearable (10). The athletes were divided into three treatment groups: Sports Medicine (N=17), Acupuncture (N=12) and a combination group of Sports Medicine and Acupuncture (N=11). The treating practitioners were certified and student athletic trainers at University of California, San Diego RIMAC Athletic Training Center along with acupuncture interns supervised by the author from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, San Diego. The study took place over a 3 week period, with each participant filling out an initial questionnaire (Intake) prior to the first week of treatment. Follow- up questionnaires were utilized at the beginning of each week of treatment for the remaining 2 weeks (Follow-up 1 and Follow-up 2). Participants answered questions concerning intensity and duration of pain during and between activities, in addition to dosages taken of anti-inflammatory medications (NSAID). Participants in all groups received a mini- mum of 2 treatments per week.
Results: The three treatment groups were compared to each other: Sports Medicine (S), Acupuncture (A) and Acupuncture and Sports Medicine combination (AS). All athletes reported an increase in effectiveness of treatment from Intake to Follow-up 2, regardless of the treatment group they were in. Athletes in the A and AS Groups received the most pain relief, were least hindered by pain during sporting and non-sporting activities, and felt overall that the treatments were more effective than those reporting in the S Group. The perception of pain, pain relief, and effectiveness was not significantly improved for athletes in the S Group. Athletes taking anti-inflammatory medications in the AS and A Treatment Groups took significantly fewer doses during the course of the study than athletes in the S Group.
Acupuncture has been found to be useful to treat joint pain which is a common side effect of breast cancer treatments known as Aromatase inhibitors. Published in the European Journal of Cancer, the researchers found that the use of acupuncture produced clinically important and durable improvement for this with symptoms of arthralgia (joint pain) - from taking aromatase inhibitors.
A randomised trial of electro-acupuncture for arthralgia related to aromatase inhibitor use
Jun J. Mao, Sharon X. Xie, John T. Farrar, Carrie T. Stricker, Marjorie A. Bowman, Deborah Bruner, Angela DeMichele.
Background: Arthralgia is a common and debilitating side-effect experienced by breast cancer patients receiving aromatase inhibitors (AIs) and often results in premature drug discontinuation.
Methods: We conducted a randomised controlled trial of electro-acupuncture (EA) as compared to waitlist control (WLC) and sham acupuncture (SA) in postmenopausal women with breast cancer who self-reported arthralgia attributable to AIs. Acupuncturists performed 10 EA/SA treatments over 8weeks using a manualised protocol with 2Hz electro-stimulation delivered by a TENS unit. Acupuncturists administered SA using Streitberger (non-penetrating) needles at non-traditional acupuncture points without electro-stimulation. The primary end-point was pain severity by Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) between EA and WLC at Week 8; durability of response at Week 12 and comparison of EA to SA were secondary aims.
Findings: Of the 67 randomly assigned patients, mean reduction in pain severity was greater in the EA group than in the WLC group at Week 8 (−2.2 versus −0.2, p=0.0004) and at Week 12 (−2.4 versus −0.2, p<0.0001). Pain-related interference measured by BPI also improved in the EA group compared to the WLC group at both Week 8 (−2.0 versus 0.2, p=0.0006) and Week 12 (−2.1 versus −0.1, p=0.0034). SA produced a magnitude of change in pain severity and pain-related interference at Week 8 (−2.3, −1.5 respectively) and Week 12 (−1.7, −1.3 respectively) similar to that of EA. Participants in both EA and SA groups reported few minor adverse events.
Interpretations: Compared to usual care, EA produced clinically important and durable improvement in arthralgia related to AIs in breast cancer patients, and SA had a similar effect. Both EA and SA were safe.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Infertility
Journal: Current Opinions in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Volume 20, Issue 3, pages 211-215.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The present review gives an overview of the potential use of traditional Chinese medicine in the treatment of infertility, including an evidence-based evaluation of its efficacy and tolerance.
RECENT FINDINGS: Recent studies demonstrated that traditional Chinese medicine could regulate the gonadotropin-releasing hormone to induce ovulation and improve the uterus blood flow and menstrual changes of endometrium. In addition, it also has impacts on patients with infertility resulting from polycystic ovarian syndrome, anxiety, stress and immunological disorders. Although study design with adequate sample size and appropriate control for the use of traditional Chinese medicine is not sufficient, the effective studies have already indicated the necessity to explore the possible mechanisms, that is, effective dose, side effect and toxicity of traditional Chinese medicine, in the treatment of infertility by means of prospective randomized control trial.
SUMMARY: The growing popularity of traditional Chinese medicine used alone or in combination with Western medicine highlights the need to examine the pros and cons of both Western and traditional Chinese medicine approaches. Integrating the principle and knowledge from well characterized approaches and quality control of both traditional Chinese medicine and Western medical approaches should become a trend in existing clinical practice and serve as a better methodology for treating infertility.
Acupuncture for Ovulation Induction in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): A Randomized Controlled Trial
American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism, May 2013, Volume 304, Issue 9, Pages 934-943
Acupuncture has been demonstrated to improve menstrual frequency and to decrease circulating testosterone in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Our aim was to investigate whether acupuncture affects ovulation frequency and to understand the underlying mechanisms of any such effect by analyzing LH and sex steroid secretion in women with PCOS.
This prospective, randomized, controlled clinical trial was conducted between June 2009 and September 2010. Thirty-two women with PCOS were randomized to receive either acupuncture with manual and low-frequency electrical stimulation or to meetings with a physical therapist twice a week for 10-13 wk.
Main outcome measures were changes in LH secretion patterns from baseline to after 10-13 wk of treatment and ovulation frequency during the treatment period. Secondary outcomes were changes in the secretion of sex steroids, anti-Müllerian hormone, inhibin B, and serum cortisol. Ovulation frequency during treatment was higher in the acupuncture group than in the control group.
After 10-13 wk of intervention, circulating levels of estrone, estrone sulfate, estradiol, dehydroepiandrosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, androstenedione, testosterone, free testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, androsterone glucuronide, androstane-3α,17β-diol-3-glucuronide, and androstane-3α,17β-diol-17-glucuronide decreased within the acupuncture group and were significantly lower than in the control group for all of these except androstenedione.
We conclude that repeated acupuncture treatments resulted in higher ovulation frequency in lean/overweight women with PCOS and were more effective than just meeting with the therapist. Ovarian and adrenal sex steroid serum levels were reduced with no effect on LH secretion.
Acupuncture for cervical ripening and induction of labor at term--a randomized controlled trial.
Rabl M, Ahner R, Bitschnau M, Zeisler H, Husslein P.
SourceDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Vienna, Austria. email@example.com
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to evaluate whether acupuncture at term can influence cervical ripening, induce labor and thus reduce the need for postdates induction.
METHODS: On the estimated date of confinement (EDC) women were prospectively randomized to an acupuncture group (AG) or a control group (CG). Data of 45 women were evaluated (AG, n = 25; CG, n = 20). Inclusion criteria were as follows: confirmed EDC, uncomplicated course of pregnancy, singleton pregnancy in cephalic presentation. Exclusion criteria were as follows: cervical dilation > 3 cm, active labor, premature rupture of membranes, previous cesarean section, pathologies in mother or fetus. Women were examined at 2-day intervals. The cervical length was measured with vaginal ultrasonography, cervical mucus was obtained for a fetal Fibronectin test and the cervical status was assessed according to the Bishop score. In the AG, the points Hegu (Large Intestine 4) and Sanyinjiao (Spleen 6) were pierced on both sides every second day. If women were not delivered 10 days after EDC, labor was induced by administering vaginal prostaglandin tablets.
RESULTS: The cervical length in the AG was shorter than that in the CG on day 6 and day 8 after EDC (P = 0.04 for both). In the AG the time period from the first positive Fibronectin test to delivery was 2.3 days, while that in the CG was 4.2 days (P = 0.08). The time period from EDC to delivery was on average 5.0 days in the AG and 7.9 days in the CG (P = 0.03). Labor was induced in 20% of women in the AG (n = 5) and in 35% in the CG (n = 7) (P = 0.3). Overall duration of labor, and first and second stage of labor were not different in the two groups. In 56% of women who underwent acupuncture (n = 14) and in 65% of controls (n = 13), Oxytocin was used to augment labor. (P = 0.54).
CONCLUSION: Acupuncture at points LI4 and SP 6 supports cervical ripening at term and can shorten the time interval between the EDC and the actual time of delivery.
Acupuncture has been found to increase live birth rates for women receiving IVF, in vitro fertilization. Researchers discovered that acupuncture increases the chances of producing a successful pregnancy for women receiving acupuncture on the day of the embryo transfer of donor eggs. Normally, acupuncture point selection is customized to the individual patient’s biological needs. However, a set of standardized points were applied to all women in the study. Prior to the IVF procedure, a special set of acupuncture points were applied. Next, another set of points were applied after the embryo transfer of donor eggs. The results were tabulated and the researchers found a significant boost in fertility and live birth rates for women receiving this standardized acupuncture protocol.
IVF is the process of fertilizing an egg with sperm in vitro, in glass. This is distinguished from IUI, intrauterine insemination, which is artificial insemination by introduction of semen into a female’s vagina or oviduct. Success rates for IVF are measured by favorable outcomes: pregnancies and liver births. Eggs are either donated by another woman or harvested from the potential mother-to-be for use in the procedure. Donor eggs are either fresh or thawed. In general, fresh donor eggs have a significantly higher live birth rate compared with thawed embryos.The acupuncture points applied prior to IVF were: DU-20, REN-6, ST-29, SP-8, P6, LIV-2. Auricular acupuncture was also applied. The left ear was needled at the Shenmen and Brain acupuncture points. The right ear was needled at the Uterus and Endocrine acupuncture points. After the embryo transfer, a different set of acupuncture points were applied. The body style points were: LI-4, SP-10, ST-36, SP-6, K-3. Auricular acupuncture to the left ear was applied to the Uterus and Endocrine acupuncture points and the right ear was needled at the Shenmen and Brain acupuncture points.
The research team comprised members of the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (Portland, Oregon), Northwest Center for Reproductive Sciences (Kirkland, Washington), and University of Washington (Seattle, Washington). The study design was a retrospective analysis using chart review and the research was conducted at a private infertility clinic. The researchers discovered that live birth rates are significantly increased for women using donor egg IVF when this specific acupuncture protocol, as outlined in this article, is followed.
Another recent study discovered that the application of acupuncture points SP6 (Sanyinjiao), CV4 (Guanyuan), CV3 (Zhongji) and Zigong (Ex-CA1) increases fertility in women. For men, it was recently discovered that electroacupuncture applied to GV20 (Baihui), CV4 (Guanyuan), ST36 (Zusanli) and SP6 (Sanyinjiao) for ten acupuncture sessions increases sperm motility. These are a small sample of the studies showing the effects of acupuncture on fertility.
The mounting evidence of acupuncture’s success led to a study of acupuncture experts. A survey was taken of prominent licensed acupuncturists to determine whether or not a consensus could be reached on acupuncture points of high priority for the treatment of infertility. The researchers discovered that consensus could be reached but that pre-embryo transfer and post-embryo transfer points varied. Consensus on pre-transfer points was on acupuncture points: SP8, SP10, Liv3, ST29, CV4. Consensus on high priority post-transfer points led to the selection of the following acupuncture points: GV20, K3, SP6, P6, K3. In addition, it was agreed that auricular points Shenmen and Zigong were of high priority.
A recent biochemical discovery demonstrated that electro-acupuncture improves pregnancy rates and live birth rates for women receiving IVF. This study was able to isolate a specific and measurable response in women’s blood as a result of electroacupuncture. The researchers found that electroacupuncture increases blood levels of HLA-G (human leukocyte antigen) "and the level of HLA-G secreted in embryos for the patients in the process of IVF-ET.” Presence of the HLA-G protein is predictive of higher pregnancy and live birth rates. For women with Kidney deficiency and Liver Qi stagnation, the HLA-G levels were significantly higher during embryo transplantation as a result of electroacupuncture and directly corresponded to improvements in the "high-quality embryo rate.” The researchers team noted that "the pregnancy outcome and the pregnancy rate are improved” for all women when electroacupuncture is applied.
A major cause of infertility is pelvic inflammatory disease, PID. Acupuncture and herbal medicine have long been used to resolve chronic pelvic region infections that result in conditions such as cervicitis, oophoritis, salpingitis, endometritis and broad ligament infections. The Centers for Disease Control, CDC, notes that approximately 100,000 U.S. women become infertile due to PID annually. One way that PID causes infertility is by causing scar tissue formation in the fallopian tubes that blocks healthy egg movement. In biomedicine, PID is inflammation of the female pelvic organ and/or connective tissues, usually caused by an infection such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. In Chinese medicine, PID is classified as the invasion of damp-heat and toxins causing Qi and Blood stasis in the lower burner. Deficiency syndromes often complicate this diagnosis when PID becomes chronic.
Common acupuncture points for the treatment of chronic PID are: ST36, ST25, ST38, SP10, SP9, GB26, GB27, GB28, CV6, CV4 and CV3. Chronic fallopian tube infections are often treated with a modification of the classic herbal formula Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan. The modified formula contains Gui Zhi, Fu Ling, Mu Dan Pi, Tao Ren, Chi Shao Yao, Huang Qi, Zao Jiao Ci, Xiang Fu, San Leng and E Zhu. If there is heat, add Bai Jiang Cao. This formula is never used when a woman is pregnant due to its blood invigorating properties. However, it is these invigorating properties that help to clear blockages in the fallopian tubes to help restore fertility.
Chinese Medicine Blog
This blog contains information and research about Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine