New research concludes that acupuncture reduces anxiety in women undergoing IVF (in vitro fertilization). A randomized-controlled study of 43 women undergoing IVF measured changes in anxiety levels. A total of four acupuncture treatments over a period of four weeks at a rate of once per week were administered. The acupuncture group received acupuncture at acupoints Yintang, HT7 (Shenmen), PC6 (Neiguan), CV17 (Shanzhong) and DU20 (Baihui). The control group received needle stimulation at non-acupuncture points near the areas of the true acupuncture points (sham acupuncture). The true acupuncture group showed a significant reduction in anxiety while the sham acupuncture group did not. The researchers concluded that acupuncture reduces anxiety and psychological strain for women undergoing IVF.
This research focuses on the integration of acupuncture with modern medical practices and represents a trend in modern investigations. In another related recent study, research demonstrates higher ovulation and pregnancy rates for women receiving acupuncture combined with clomiphene (Clomid) compared with women receiving only clomiphene. An additional four recent studies focused on the ability of acupuncture to improve fertility treatment outcomes. An investigation of 5,807 women concludes that acupuncture improves clinical pregnancy rates and live birth rates for women receiving IVF. A study published in the American Journal of Reproductive Immunology shows that use of acupoints ST36 and SP6 prevents egg implantation failure. In a study of 309 women, electroacupuncture “significantly improved the clinical outcome of ET (embryo transfer).” Looking at basic science, researchers concluded that, “Acupuncture could improve the poor receptive state of (the) endometrium due to mifepristone by promoting Th2 cytokines secretion and inhibiting Th1 cytokines to improve blastocyst implantation.”
A classical acupuncture point selection, the acupoints chosen for the study have been used for anxiety reduction for over a thousand years. Yintang is renown for its stress relieving effects. HT7 (Spirit Gate) is a Shu-Stream, Yuan-Source and Earth point of the Heart channel. It is classically indicated for calming the spirit and regulating the Heart. PC6 is a Luo-Connecting point of the Pericardium channel and the Confluent point of the Yin Linking vessel. PC6 regulates the Heart, calms the spirit, harmonizes the Stomach and regulates the chest Qi. PC6 regulates the Stomach Qi and is often used to relieve nausea and vomiting. CV17 is the Front-Mu point of the Pericardium, a Meeting point of Qi, a Sea of Qi point and a meeting point with the Spleen, Kidney, Triple Burner and Small Intestine channels. CV17 regulates the Qi, opens and benefits the chest, promotes lactation and is used to benefit both breathing and relaxation. DU20 is a Sea of Marrow point and is also the meeting point of the DU channel with the UB, GB, Triple Burner and Liver channels. DU20 calms the spirit, benefits the head and brain, and subdues wind disorders such as headaches, dizziness and hypertension.
Together, these points have a synergistic ability to induce relaxation with effects that are often immediate and lasting. Variations of this point combination are common for the treatment of hypertension, insomnia, panic attacks, PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome) and depression. As a result, use of this point selection in this study represents a common standard for the treatment of anxiety as recommended by many Chinese medicine textbooks and classical literature.
Effect of acupuncture on symptoms of anxiety in women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: a prospective randomised controlled study. Daniela Isoyama, Emerson Barchi Cordts, Angela Mara Bentes de Souza van Niewegen, Waldemar de Almeida Pereira de Carvalho, Simone Tiemi Matsumura, Caio Parente Barbosa. Acupunct Med acupmed-2011-010064Published Online First: 12 April 2012 doi:10.1136/acupmed-2011-010064.
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