Researchers have discovered that acupuncture relieves prostate disorders. A clinical trial of 100 patients discovered that electro-acupuncture applied to a specific acupuncture point improved International Prostate Symptom Scores (IPSS). The IPSS score measures improvements in issues associated with incomplete urination bladder emptying, frequent urination, intermittent interruptions in the urinary stream, urgent urination, weakness of the urine stream, straining during urination and the need to get up and urinate in the night. It was found that acupuncture improves these conditions significantly for patients with moderate or severe benign prostatic hyperplasia, a condition in which the prostate becomes enlarged. As a result, the researchers conclude that acupuncture is effective and improves the quality of life for patients.
Benign prostate hyperplasia affects approximately 40% of men in their 50’s and 90% of men in their 80’s. It is a common cause of urinary issues such as dribbling, hesitant urination, straining to urinate, urgent urination, frequent urination and nocturia. Risks for kidney disease and urinary tract infections increase due to urination storage and elimination dysfunction. Surgery, lifestyle modifications and medications are standard biomedical approaches for the treatment of this prostate issue.
The researchers chose a special acupuncture point for the study based on prior research showing that it is more effective than terazosin, an alpha-1 antagonist drug used for treating enlarged prostates, in improving International Prostate Symptoms Scores. The drug terazosin also lowers blood pressure but may include side effects including dizziness, drowsiness, headaches, constipation, loss of appetite, exhaustion, dry eyes, nasal congestion and erectile dysfunction. This is, in part, due to the fact that terazosin blocks the action of adrenaline on the smooth muscle tissues of the urination bladder and blood vessel walls. The acupuncture point used in the study did not induce adverse affects but instead relieved the urinary discomfort and dysfunction associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Acupuncture Point Shop Talk
The acupuncture point chosen for the study was UB33 (Zhongliao, Middle Crevice). This point is located on the sacrum directly over the third posterior sacral foramen. According to Chinese Medicine theory, UB33 is the meeting point of the Bladder and Gallbladder channels. UB33 regulates the lower burner and also strengthens the back and legs. Acupuncture is commonly applied to this point for the treatment of lower back pain, irregular menstruation and leukorrhea. This point also has the traditionally cited functions for benefitting urination and defecation. UB33 is indicated for a variety of urinary disorders including difficult urination, urinary retention, painful urination and dribbling urination.
Electroacupuncture was applied bilaterally to UB33 with acupuncture needles that were inserted obliquely. Disperse-dense wave electroacupuncture were applied at 20Hz. The patient received a total of 16 acupuncture treatments over a one month period of time. The researchers compared the acupuncture study group with a sham acupuncture control group and concluded that true acupuncture is effective and the sham acupuncture was not effective. Further, the researchers postulate that electroacupuncture at acupuncture point UB33 is effective for the treatment of this prostate condition because acupuncture successfully causes sacral neuromodulation.
Wang, Yang, Baoyan Liu, Jinna Yu, Jiani Wu, Jing Wang, and Zhishun Liu. "Electroacupuncture for Moderate and Severe Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia: A Randomized Controlled Trial." PLOS ONE 8, no. 4 (2013): e59449.