Latest Acupuncture News
- Brain MRI Shows Acupuncture Relieves Migraines
- Stanford University, Acupuncture Reduces Pain After Surgery
- Acupuncture Effective For Treating Hearing Loss
- MRI Reveals Acupuncture Modulates Brain Activity
- Acupuncture Reduces Stress For IVF Fertility Treatment
- Acupuncture Plus Herbs Relieve Perimenopause Insomnia
- Acupuncture Lowers Anxiety & Pain After Mastectomy
Acupuncture Continuing Education News
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reveals that acupuncture prevents and relieves migraines by restoring normal brain functions. MRI results demonstrate that acupuncture decreases the frequency and duration of migraine attacks by increasing functional connectivity in the brain’s frontal and temporal lobes. The researchers add that the MRI data reveals the “neural mechanisms of acupuncture treatment for migraine.”
Brain regions of the frontal and temporal lobes have “decreased functional connectivity” in migraine sufferers. The MRI results demonstrate that acupuncture restores functional connectivity in the affected regions. After a four week course of acupuncture treatment, migraine sufferers “showed significantly increased functional connectivity in the bilateral superior frontal gyrus, medial frontal gyrus, precuneus, inferior parietal lobule, posterior cingulate cortex, cingulate gyrus, superior temporal gyrus, middle temporal gyrus, and supramarginal gyrus as compared with before acupuncture treatment.” In addition, the researchers conclude that acupuncture decreases the frequency and duration of migraine attacks after a four week course of acupuncture therapy.
The researchers note that a large body of clinical research concludes that “acupuncture is able to alleviate headache degree and/or improve the quality of life and it is safe and at least as effective, if not more effective than prophylactic drug treatment.” The purpose of their investigation was to measure how acupuncture accomplishes pain relief. The researchers note, “The current results indicated that the neural mechanisms of acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis might be interpreted as that acupuncture treatment could increase the decreased resting-state functional connectivity in certain brain regions within the frontal and temporal lobe of MWoA (migraine without aura) patients.”
They add that studies show that the “frontoparietal network plays an important role in endogenous pain modulation.” As a result, the researchers posit “that acupuncture treatment could enhance the pain related modulatory effects of the frontoparietal network by increasing its functional connectivity in migraine patients.” They also note that the results indicate that acupuncture relieves pain by enhancing the “functional connectivity of the default mode network and other brain networks.”
Stanford University doctors conclude that acupuncture during surgery reduces pain. Research published in The Laryngoscope finds acupuncture effective for reducing pain and improving restoration of a normal diet postoperatively when acupuncture is applied during surgery. Doctors from the Stanford University School of Medicine conclude that acupuncture is “feasible, well tolerated, and results in improved pain and earlier return of diet postoperatively.”
The research was conducted by doctors from two Stanford University School of Medicine (Palo Alto, California) departments, the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and the Department of Anesthesia.
A randomized-controlled investigation of acupuncture’s benefits to pediatric tonsillectomy patients reveals that acupuncture patients “experienced significantly less pain at various postoperative time points as compared to the control cohort, and also that the onset of analgesia in the acupuncture cohort began by 36 hours postoperatively, whereas the control group did not reach significant analgesia until 84 hours postoperatively.”
Postoperative oral intake improved for patients receiving acupuncture during the tonsillectomy operation. The researchers note, “Oral intake was significantly more improved in the acupuncture group than the control group (P = 0.01).” They add that “the acupuncture group had significantly increased oral intake starting at 24 hours and lasting through all remaining time points examined, whereas the control group had significantly increased oral intake starting at 72 hours postoperatively.”
Acupuncture improves hearing for patients with hearing loss. Research published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine finds acupuncture effective for the treatment of nerve related deafness. This type of sensorineural deafness is hearing loss due to auditory nerve damage. The researchers, Jiang et al., conclude that acupuncture “can significantly improve the hearing of patients with nerve deafness, and the efficacy of acupuncture in combination with medication is superior to medication alone.”
Conventional medical treatments include cochlear implants, vasodilator medications, vitamin therapies, and steroids. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), both acupuncture and herbal medicines are used in the treatment of sensorineural hearing loss and deafness. The research finds acupuncture significantly more effective than medications. Acupuncture was also found more effective than than Er Long Zuo Ci Wan. This is a significant finding given that the herbal formula Er Long Zuo Ci Wan has been used in TCM for the treatment of hearing disorders for centuries and has also been found effective for the treatment of hearing related disorders in modern research.
Er Long Zuo Ci Wan contains the following herbal medicines:
- Magnetitum (Ci Shi)
- Radix Rehmanniae Preparata (Shu Di Huang)
- Fructus Corni Officinalis (Shan Zhu Yu)
- Cortex Moutan Radicis, Paeonia Suffruticosa (Mu Dan Pi)
- Rhizoma Dioscoreae Oppositae (Shan Yao)
- Sclerotium Poriae Cocos (Fu Ling)
- Rhizoma Alismatis Orientalis (Ze Xie)
- Radix Bupleuri Chinensis (Chai Hu)
Qiu et al. investigation the effects of Er Long Zuo Ci Wan and discovered that it reduces ototoxicity due to gentamicin consumption. Gentamicin is an antibiotic used in the treatment of gram-negative bacterial infections but has ototoxic and nephrotoxic properties. Qiu et al. also discovered that Er Long Zuo Ci Wan demonstrates protective effects on succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) in cochlear hair cells. Chen et al. note that hair cell loss correlates to hearing loss and SDH activity within cochlear hair cells and is a marker of cellular dysfunction and subsequent loss of auditory sensitivity. Together, these findings suggest that Er Long Zuo Ci Wan may have otoprotective properties. Additional research by Wang et al. suggests that Er Long Zuo Ci Wan may reduce chronic tinnitus.
MRI studies reveal the neurological mechanisms of acupuncture on human health. Research published in Autonomic Neuroscience demonstrates that stimulation of specific acupuncture points induces hemodynamic changes in specific brain networks. The researchers add that brain networks accessed by specific acupuncture points relate to specific medical disorders and suggest an “acupoint-brain-organ” pathway.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies reveal specific acupuncture point effects in the brain through blood-oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) measurements. In a meta-analysis of 82 fMRI studies, researchers found a large body of evidence supporting acupuncture point specificity. This applies to both manual acupuncture and electroacupuncture. True acupuncture point stimulation induced specific cortical effects whereas sham acupuncture did not. In addition, the researchers note that acupuncture point stimulation produces significantly “more positive and negative hemodynamic signal response(s) in brain regions compared with sensory stimulation used as a control condition.”
Many important findings were confirmed. Acupuncture exerted a stimulus that “could induce beneficial cortical plasticity in carpal tunnel syndrome patients.” It was also demonstrated that acupuncture relieved pain “by regulating the equilibrium of distributed pain-related central networks.”
The researchers note that a fundamental principle of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is that “specific acupoints have therapeutic effects on target organ systems remote from the needling site….” Recent fMRI investigations support this principle. The researchers note that “fMRI investigations regarding several acupoints have demonstrated that acupuncture stimulation at disorder-implicated acupoints modulates the activity of the disorder-related brain regions.”
In TCM, acupuncture point Neiguan (PC6) is indicated for the treatment of nausea and vomiting. The fMRI research supports this ancient principle. The researchers note, “Acupuncturing at Neiguan (PC6) could selectively evoke hemodynamic response of insula and cerebellar-hypothalamus in order to exert modulatory effects on vestibular functions, indicating the specific treatment effect on nausea and vomiting.”
Acupuncture reduces stress for women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). Research in Fertility and Sterility, an American Society For Reproductive Medicine publication, measured the dose dependent effect of acupuncture on stress for women undergoing IVF. They discovered that elevated stress levels persist in women receiving only a single acupuncture treatment on the day of embryo transfer. However, stress reduced significantly for women receiving several acupuncture treatments prior to the day of embryo transfer.
The researchers note that “acupuncture appears to be a promising stress-lowering tool for women undergoing IVF.” The research suggests a dose dependent effect. The study compared women receiving a single acupuncture treatment on the day of embryo transfer with those receiving several acupuncture treatments over a period of time greater than one month. The researchers note that one acupuncture treatment was not clinically significant but that “when undergoing multiple acupuncture sessions, stress scores were significantly lower.” Citing research on the impact of lowering stress on fertility procedure positive patient outcomes, the researchers recommend additional studies on acupuncture’s effects on fertility outcomes.
A related study was published recently finding that in vitro fertilization (IVF) live birth success rates may increase with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) therapies, including both acupuncture and herbal medicine. A meta-analysis of over 1,200 IVF patient records was examined. Application of TCM modalities was associated with a significant increase in the live birth rate. The live birth rate was increased for both fresh donor and non-donor IVF embryo transfers.
Combining acupuncture with a special Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal formula relieves perimenopausal insomnia. Acupuncture, as a standalone treatment modality, is found effective for the treatment of perimenopausal related insomnia in a recent study. However, when a special herbal formula was added to the treatment regime, the total effective rate increased significantly. Researchers conclude that acupuncture combined with herbal medicine “is a simple and effective clinical intervention for the patients with perimenopausal insomnia….”
The researchers note that acupuncture combined with the herbal medicine formula Zi Shen Tiao Gan Tang (kidney reinforcing and liver regulating decoction) demonstrates the ability to “regulate endocrine functions” and nervous system functions. The researchers add that the acupuncture plus herbal medicine treatment protocol outlined in the study helps patients “avoid side effects from sedatives” through the use of this effective alternative to drugs. The following are the effective rates, acupuncture points, and herbs used to achieve positive patient outcomes for patients with perimenopausal insomnia.
The total effective rate for acupuncture combined with Zi Shen Tiao Gan Tang was 96.83%. Using the same acupuncture point prescription without the use of herbal medicine achieved a 74.60% total effective rate. The total effective rate was broken down into three categories: cure, remarkable effect, effect.
A cure was defined as sleep time restoration to normal or sleep time exceeding six hours of sound sleep with the patient being “full of energy” after waking. A remarkable effect was defined as pronounced sleep improvements with an increase of sleep time by three hours. Effect was defined by sleep time increasing to a greater length than prior to the study but less than a three hour improvement. Acupuncture plus herbal medicine achieved a cure rate of 34.92%, a remarkable effect rate of 31.75%, and an effect rate of 30.16%. Acupuncture without the addition of herbal medicine achieved a 26.98% cure rate, a remarkable effective rate of 25.39%, and an effect rate of approximately 22.22%.
Acupuncture reduces anxiety and pain for breast cancer patients that have had a mastectomy or breast reconstruction surgery. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota) conclude that acupuncture “significantly improves symptoms of postoperative pain, anxiety, and tension, and demonstrates a trend toward improved postoperative relaxation.” They add that “acupuncture can be integrated into a busy postsurgical clinical practice” and “acupuncture may be an important intervention in the postoperative setting for breast cancer patients.”
The Mayo Clinic researchers note that there are “several important implications” from the study. The researchers tested the feasibility of incorporating acupuncture into a postoperative medical setting for mastectomy and breast reconstruction patients. The results suggest that acupuncture is feasible in this environment and note that acupuncture “can be successfully incorporated into a busy postoperative clinical setting….” The researchers note, “it appears that acupuncture can be incorporated into a postoperative inpatient setting without disrupting patient care or activities of care team members.”
All patients in the study noted that it was worthwhile and no patients indicated dissatisfaction. The researchers note that there was “a high degree of participant satisfaction in acupuncture.” The Mayo Clinic researchers add that satisfaction levels indicate “the value of acupuncture for surgical patients….” The researchers note that acupuncture improves the quality of life for patients citing that “acupuncture can have favorable effects on anxiety, tension and postoperative pain….” They add that the “study’s results suggest that acupuncture can be integrated successfully ino the postoperative care of breast surgery recipients.”
The study’s acupuncture point prescription was protocolized to a standardized set of acupuncture points. The prescription was based on the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles of calming shen, tonifying qi and blood, and moving qi and blood. Acupuncture points included:
- DU20 (Baihui)
- Ex-HN3 (Yintang)
- LI4 (Hegu)
- LI11 (Quchi)
- PC6 (Neiguan)
- SP10 (Xuehai)
- SP6 (Sanyinjiao)
- ST36 (Zusanli)
- LV3 (Taichong)
- GB40 (Qiuxu)
The researchers selected the acupuncture points for their ability to address several indications including: headache, nausea, vomiting, GI pain, and musculoskeletal pain. The points were also chosen to induce a calming effect for the relief of anxiety. Acupuncture needles were Seirin J-type of two sizes: 0.16 x 15 mm, 0.20 x 30 mm. Needles were inserted and the de qi sensation was induced by manual acupuncture techniques. The acupuncture points were applied by a licensed acupuncturist (Minnesota Board of Medical Practice) with a masters degree level of training and who is certified by the National Certification Committee for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).
Acupuncture significantly enhances peripheral blood flow. Photoplethysmography results published in Electron Devices and Solid-State Circuits demonstrates that acupuncture induces “significant elevation of peripheral blood flow.” The research team making this discovery notes that a prior investigation using single-channel photoplethysmography demonstrates that acupuncture enhances “local microvascular blood flow in tissue surrounding Zusanli after acupuncture at that site.” The new research takes the investigation another step further. Using multi-channel photoplethysmography, the researchers demonstrate that needling acupuncture point ST36 (Zusanli) induces “significant elevations in whole body peripheral blood flow and parasympathetic activities after acupuncture at Zusanli.”
The ancient principles of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) posit acupuncture as a means to regulate qi and blood flow throughout the body through a transporting network of meridians and acupuncture points along those meridians. The researchers note that the study “reinforces the theory of traditional Chinese medicine….” The researchers measured acupuncture’s ability to induce “significant elevations in peripheral blood flow over the upper and lower limbs during and after acupuncture.” Based on the findings, the researchers conclude that “the results of this study support the theory of Chinese medicine that acupuncture at Zusanli augments systemic gastrointestinal and circulatory functions.”
The researchers provide background concerning the need for this investigation. In 1996, the World Health Organization (WHO) denoted that acupuncture is beneficial in the treatment of 64 conditions including those involving pain, psychiatric concerns, neurological disorders, digestive imbalances, respiratory disorders, dermatological conditions, and gynecological diseases. They add that in Taiwan, acupuncture is commonly used for the treatment of many conditions including “stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, Bell’s palsy, carpal tunnel syndrome, and headache.” The study was designed to clarify the mechanisms by which acupuncture exerts its effective actions.
Research finds acupuncture combined with herbal medicine effective for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Acupuncture combined with the herbal formula Dang Gui Si Ni Tang resulted in a total effective rate of 93.75%. The research demonstrates that acupuncture combined with the herbal formula has a “significant curative effect on rheumatoid arthritis….” While these findings are hopeful, the 93.75% total effective rate represents all clinically significant improvements and does not represent a cure rate.
Dang Gui Si Ni Tang, translated as Angelica Decoction for Frigid Extremities, is a Traditional Chinese Medicine herbal formula included in the Shang Han Lun (Treatise on Cold Damage Disorders), written in 220 CE. In the book, the herbal formulation is recommended for patients with a sensation of chilled hands and feet combined with a small and weak pulse, which is attributed to an external weakness of yang.
Dang Gui Si Ni Tang is categorized as an herbal formula that warms the channels and disperses cold. The formula warms the channels, expels the cold, nourishes the blood, and invigorates blood stasis. Dang Gui Si Ni Tang contains:
- Dang Gui (Radix Angelicae Sinensis)
- Gui Zhi (Ramulus Cinnamomi)
- Shao Yao (Radix Paeoniae)
- Xi Xin (Herba Asari)
- Zhi Gan Cao (Radix Glycyrrhizae Preparata)
- Mu Tong (Akebiae Caulis)
- Da Zao (Fructus Jujubae)
Another study investigated Dan Gui Si Ni Tang’s therapeutic effects for diabetics. Patients with diabetic foot ulcers due to blood stasis or kidney yang deficiency were randomized into an herbal group and a drug group. The randomized-controlled trial selected patients from the Maoming Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine at the Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine. The treatment group received a modified version of Dang Gui Si Ni Tang and the control group received treatment with cilostazol, a quinolinone derivative used to relieve symptoms due to peripheral vascular disease.
Acupuncture successfully improves sleep quality and reduces both stress and depression in the elderly. Published in Neuroscience Letters, researchers made this determination based on a randomized, placebo-controlled study. The researchers note that “the rigorous methodology employed in this study ensured the reliability of the results concerning the improved sleep quality and relaxation effects involved with acupuncture during aging.”
Acupuncture significantly improved the Pittsburg sleep quality index (PSQI) scores, indicating substantial sleep quality improvements. In addition, beck depression inventory (BDI) and the perceived stress scale (PSS) measures demonstrated significant clinical improvements. True acupuncture demonstrated significant positive patient outcomes for improvements in sleep quality and reduction of both depression and stress. The researchers note, “No significant changes were observed in the placebo group.” The researchers add that the strict controls employed during the study “demonstrate the real effects of acupuncture.”
Acupuncture was applied to elderly patients in a hospital outpatient setting. Licensed acupuncturists applied the acupuncture needles while patients rested in a supine position on a stretcher. Acupuncture was applied at a rate of twice per week for a total of 25 minutes of needle retention time per treatment session. Each patient received a grand total of 10 acupuncture treatments. Sterile disposable acupuncture needles were applied to acupuncture points:
- SP6 (Sanyinjiao)
- LI4 (Hegu)
- ST36 (Zusanli)
- LV3 (Taichong)
- PC6 (Neiguan)
- Ex-NH3 (Yintang)
Manual needle stimulation was applied to the needles frequently during each acupuncture treatment session. For the placebo-controlled sham acupuncture group, acupuncture needles were applied to areas of the body not associated with classic acupuncture points as defined by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In addition, the placebo-controlled group’s needles were applied to a superficial depth without needle stimulation.
The acupuncture point prescription choice was similar to a prescription in a related study. The researchers note that Sun et al. used acupuncture points including ST36, SP6, PC6, and LV3 in an investigation of acupuncture’s effects on major depressive disorder (MDD). The researchers note that Sun et al. “found similar antidepressant effects of electroacupuncture (EA) as compared to fluoxetine-treated patients.” Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant medication. It is also known by its trade names including Prozac and Sarafem.
The researchers add that electroacupuncture “had a faster onset of action, better response rate, and better improvement rate than fluoxetine, indicating that acupuncture can be a good intervention method for ameliorating psychological distress and depressive symptoms, thereby promoting relaxation and well-being.” Although there were similarities to Sun et al., the sleep researchers employed manual acupuncture stimulation whereas Sun et al. employed electroacupuncture. This contrast demonstrates that both electroacupuncture and manual acupuncture have therapeutic value in the treatment of depression.
Acupuncture reduces tooth socket bone loss due to periodontitis. Researchers conducting a laboratory experiment on the effects of periodontitis discovered that electroacupuncture decreases periodontal tissue destruction and also reduces pro-inflammatory mediators and a key pro-resorptive factor. Histomorphometry and microtomography confirm that electroacupuncture effectively reduces bone loss in the alveoli, the jawbone sockets containing the roots of teeth. The research was published in the Journal of Periodontology Online, an official publication of the American Academy of Periodontology.
The researchers identified key biochemical reductions in pro-inflammatory mediators. Application of electroacupuncture decreased expression of IL-1β, a pro-inflammatory cytokine, which is a cell-signaling protein used in intercellular communication. Zhe Liu et al. also measured reductions in IL-1β caused by the application of acupuncture. In an entirely different experiment on a different set of acupuncture points, GV20 and GB7, Zhe Liu et al. found that acupuncture reduces IL-1β in the brain tissue region of a hematoma after a stroke.
The periodontal experiment conducted by Lisboa et al. examined the effects of electroacupuncture on laboratory mice with ligature induced periodontitis. Acupuncture points LI4 (Hegu), LI11 (Quchi), ST36 (Zusanli) and ST44 (Neiting) were applied. The researchers identified another pro-inflammatory modulator that was downregulated by the application of acupuncture at these points. Expression of MMP-8 decreased. MMP-8 is a protein active in the breakdown of extracellular matrixes.
About the Acupuncture Points
All acupuncture points chosen for use in the periodontitis study were selected from either the large intestine hand-yangming or stomach leg-yangming channels. The stomach leg-yangming channel traverses several areas related to oral health. The primary stomach channel begins beside the nose near the ala nasi at LI20 and ascends to the root of the nose where it intersects with UB1. Next, the channel descends along the lateral side of the nose and enters the upper gums. Then, it joins acupuncture point DU26 and circles back around the corner of the mouth, meeting CV24 at the mentolabial groove. From there, it follows the angle of the jaw and runs upward in front of the ear. Another branch separates on the lower jaw and descends along the throat and enters the supraclavicular fossa.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) live birth success rates may increase with traditional Chinese medicine adjuvant care, including both acupuncture and herbal medicine. In this retrospective cohort study, researchers reviewed 1,231 IVF patient records and compared live birth outcomes for patients receiving IVF only and patients receiving IVF plus Chinese medicine.
Acupuncture was combined with Chinese medicine dietetics, lifestyle, and nutritional recommendations, and if appropriate, Chinese herbal medicine. The research team used the term whole-systems traditional Chinese medicine (WS - TCM) for the integrated protocol. WS -TCM was compared with two groups: women who underwent usual IVF care, women who elected to have two standardized acupuncture sessions on the day of IVF embryo transfer. WS - TCM was associated with a significant increase in live births compared with both groups.
The live birth rate was increased in both fresh donor and non-donor IVF embryo transfers. In the cycles using donor eggs (N=162), patients who elected WS - TCM care had an 85.7% live birth rate. A live birth rate of 62.5% occured in donor IVF patients receiving only usual IVF care and a 59.5% live birth rate occurred in women who elected day of embryo transfer acupuncture. For women who did IVF with their own eggs (N=1,069), the WS-TCM group's live birth rate was 61.3% compared with 48.2% in the usual IVF care group and 50.8% in acupuncture group.
All integrated Chinese medicine treatments were individualized to each patient. The researchers note that Chinese medicine focused on regulating the menstrual cycle in four phases for the treatment of reproductive concerns: menses, follicular, ovulation, luteal. During the menstrual cycle, treatment focused on regulating the menses and alleviating dysmenorrhea. The follicular phase focused on regulating reproductive hormones plus endometrial and follicular development. The ovulation phase focused on ovulation induction and the luteal phase involves regulating hormones.
Acupuncture benefits patients with dry eyes. Optical coherence tomography with biomicroscopy demonstrates that acupuncture significantly reduces dry eyes for patients with lipid tear deficiency (LTD) and non-Sjögren syndrome (Non-SSDE) related dry eyes. Acupuncture successfully increased abnormally reduced tear meniscus parameters including tear meniscus height, tear meniscus depth, and tear meniscus area. The tear meniscus is a thin film of tear fluid that, when absent, indicates dry eyes. The researchers note that acupuncture “provided a measurable improvement of the tear meniscus dimensions….”
The study employed the highest standards using a randomized parallel-group intervention type of clinical study with a sample size of 96 human dry eye patients. A total of 44 patients were in the acupuncture group and 52 patients were in the control group. The acupuncture group received acupuncture treatments three time per week for four weeks for a total of 12 acupuncture treatments per patient. Participants did not use any other type of therapy to treat dry eyes. Acupuncture points selected for use in the study were consistent with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory and included:
- Jingming (BL1)
- Cuanzhu (BL2)
- Yangbai (GB14)
- Sizhukong (SJ23)
- Taiyang (Extra1)
- Sibai (ST2)
- Hegu (LI4)
- Taichong (LR3)
- Guangming (GB37)
- Sanyinjiao (SP6)
- Fengchi (GB20)
Acupuncture needles were manually inserted and the de qi response was elicited. Total needle retention time was 30 minutes. An RTVue-100 optical coherence tomography device, manufactured by a Fremont (California) company, non-invasively captured eye cross-section images using light waves. This device was the first FDA cleared spectral domain optical coherence tomography unit capable of capturing both corneal and retinal imaging.
Acupuncture is safe and effective for allergy treatments. Research published in American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy finds acupuncture effective for the treatment of allergic rhinitis. This condition is often referred to as hay fever and is characterized by a runny nose, postnasal drip, sneezing, watery or itchy eyes, and irritation of the ears or throat. Acupuncture significantly lowered Immunoglobulin E (IgE), an antibody associated with allergies and hypersensitivities, in allergic rhinitis patients. In addition, subjective measures demonstrated acupuncture’s ability to improve quality of life scores. Acupuncture demonstrated significant efficaciousness in reducing allergic rhinitis symptoms including the reduction of nasal symptoms.
The researchers conducted a meta-analysis sorting for quality investigations from 174 randomized-controlled allergic rhinitis studies. A final selection of 13 quality trials consisting of a total sample size of 2,365 patients was examined. The researchers note that the study includes recent “multicenter, randomized, parallel-controlled trials with high quality” to support consistency of conclusions.
A primary outcome measure was the nasal symptom score. The researchers state that the, “Acupuncture group produced significantly greater diminution of nasal symptoms than did (the) control group.” Two randomized-controlled trials tested for a physical component score. Both demonstrated that acupuncture “was superior to the control group in improving physical health.” Three of the studies tested for IgE changes and all documented significant reductions in serum IgE. Two studies examined an overall mental component score. Both indicated “a significant trend in favor of the acupuncture group” for mental symptom improvement.
The researchers note, “Our meta-analysis showed that (the) acupuncture group has (a) superior effect in reduction of both rhinitis symptoms and the requirement for antiallergic medication compared with (the) control group.” The quality of life score significantly improved with acupuncture and was a measure of several components: sleep, non-nasal/eye symptoms, emotional function, practical problems, nasal symptoms, eye symptoms, activities. Serum IgE score improvements were found in the acupuncture group. The researchers note that, “This result showed strong and consistent evidence that acupuncture treatment leads to favorable responses in immunologic outcomes, which have been shown to be helpful in trials of proven therapeutic modalities, such as allergen-specific immunotherapy.”
Liu et al. compared allergic rhinitis acupuncture treatment with loratadine, a histamine antagonist drug used for the treatment of allergies. In the short term, acupuncture achieved a 96.7% total effective rate and the medication group achieved a 93.3% total effective rate. However, a long term follow-up demonstrated acupuncture’s ability to produce significantly superior positive patient outcomes. The follow-up reveals that acupuncture achieved an 86.7% total effective rate and loratadine achieve a 56.7% total effective rate. The researchers conclude, “The acupuncture at three nasal points and the acupoints selected by syndrome differentiation achieves the similar short-term efficacy on perennial allergic rhinitis as compared with the oral administration of loratadine. The acupuncture therapy presents the obvious advantages on long-term efficacy.”
Acupuncture immediately and significantly relieves lower back pain. Researchers applied acupuncture to hospital emergency department patients with acute lower back pain in a controlled study. The data indicates that acupuncture is both safe and effective in relieving lower back pain.
The study evaluated the effects of acupuncture on acute lower back pain patients receiving outpatient care in the emergency department of Changhua Christian Hospital (Taiwan). A true acupuncture group was compared with a sham acupuncture group in this controlled study. True acupuncture was applied to the following acupoints:
- Hegu (LI4)
- Shousanli (LI10)
- Yanlingquan (GB34)
- Taichong (LR3)
All needles were manually stimulated to elicit the de qi response. De qi sensations are often described by patients as dull, heavy, deep pressure, pulling, numb, aching, radiating, electrical, refreshing, and tingling. Acupuncturists may also experience a tugging or electrical sensation on the needle at the arrival of de qi. Needle retention time totaled 15 minutes for each patient.
The true acupuncture group demonstrated a significant reduction in lower back pain within 15 minutes of receiving acupuncture treatment. A three day follow-up interview confirmed lasting results. The true acupuncture group significantly outperformed the sham acupuncture group within 15 minutes of treatment and three days following treatment. The results indicate that true acupuncture has immediate and lasting effects.
Acupuncture repairs injured nerves. Findings published in Neural Regeneration Research demonstrate that acupuncture causes injured lower and upper limb motor nerves to repair. Electromyographic nerve conduction tests of acupuncture patients with nerve injuries document “an effective response” in 80% of patients participating in the study. Electromyography confirms that acupuncture significantly improves motor nerve conduction velocity and amplitude and also promotes functional nerve repair.
The researchers made an important discovery. A special set of acupuncture points resulted in good to excellent clinical responses at a very high rate. Using only local acupuncture points, patients had an effective rate of 38.5%. By adding acupuncture points to the Du meridian in addition to local acupuncture points, the effective rate jumped to 80%.
The Du meridian is a pathway composed of 28 primary acupuncture points plus extra acupoints. Many of the Du meridian acupuncture points are located on the midline of the back below the spinous processes of the vertebrae. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the application of acupuncture points to the Du meridian (Governor vessel) are used for the treatment of many disorders including spine and brain ailments, vertigo, numbness, tremors, febrile diseases, and infertility.
The research published in Neural Regeneration Research confirms the Du meridian’s significant role in the treatment of nerve injuries. Electroacupuncture was applied to both the upper and lower limb groups at a rate of once per day, five times per week for a total of six weeks. The total number of acupuncture treatments was 30 sessions per patient. The researchers conclude, “Our results indicate that Governor vessel and local meridian acupoints used simultaneously promote functional repair after peripheral nerve injury.”
The acupuncture points used in the study were a protocolized set of two acupuncture point prescriptions, one for the upper limbs and one for the lower limbs. The upper limb acupuncture point prescription consisted of local acupoints at the site of the injured nerve plus the following Du meridian acupoints:
- Baihui (DU20)
- Fengfu (DU16)
- Dazhui (DU14)
- Shenzhu (DU12)
The lower limb acupuncture point prescription consisted of local meridian acupoints at the site of the injured nerve plus the following Du meridian acupoints:
- Jizhong (DU6)
- Mingmen (DU4)
- Yaoyangguan (DU3)
- Yaoshu (DU2)
The local acupuncture points used in the study were chosen based on the area of nerve injury. Radial nerve injuries were treated with the following acupuncture points:
- Jianyu (LI15)
- Binao (LI14)
- Quchi (LI11)
- Hegu (LI4)
- Yangxi (LI5)
Acupuncture successfully lowers blood pressure in patients with hypertension. Researchers conducted a randomized, controlled clinical trial of 120 patients. Groups 1 and 2 received medications but group 1 also received acupuncture in addition to usual care. The group receiving acupuncture had significantly lower blood pressure. In addition, the acupuncture group had significantly less anxiety.
A related hypertension study had similar findings. A randomized, controlled clinical trial compared two groups. Group 1 received health education and lifestyle intervention. Group 2 received acupuncture in addition to the health education and lifestyle intervention. The hypertension reduced in both groups, however, the acupuncture group had significantly superior patient outcomes.
The researchers used a protocolized acupuncture point prescription to achieve the clinical results. Acupuncture point Baihui (DU20) was threaded towards acupuncture point Qianding (DU21). DU20, located at the vertex of the head, is considered one of the most important acupuncture points in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Classical indications for using DU20 include the treatment of hypertension.
The hypertension research supports the ancient TCM principles with a modern scientific investigation. According to TCM principles, DU20 is a sea of marrow acupuncture point that clears the senses, calms the spirit, extinguishes liver wind and stabilizes the ascendent yang. In modern terms, this indicates acupuncture at DU20 for the treatment of hypertension, dizziness, headaches, vertigo, tinnitus, nasal congestion, coma, shock, mental disorders and prolapsed organs.
Acupuncture benefits sleep and reduces insomnia. Researchers conducted a single-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled investigation comparing acupuncture with sham acupuncture and estazolam, a benzodiazepine medication. True (verum) acupuncture produced significantly superior patient outcomes for insomnia patients including improvements in sleep quality and total sleep time.
A two month follow-up to the treatment regime demonstrates that acupuncture is superior to sham acupuncture and estazolam for the improvement of sleep quality. True acupuncture also produced superior clinical results for sleep efficiency and daytime functioning. Acupuncture improved daytime functioning including: fatigue reduction, reduced sleepiness, increased alertness and concentration, reduced mood disturbances.
The researchers adhered to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) manual acupuncture techniques and attribute the positive patient outcomes to following traditional treatment protocol guidelines. According to TCM principles, de qi is an indication of the effectiveness of acupuncture. The research team ensured that de qi was achieved at most of the acupuncture points. De qi is often subjectively reported as fullness or a radiating sensation felt at acupuncture points during needling. It is also reported as a tugging or pulling motion by acupuncturists applying the needles. The researchers note that de qi was achieved at 85% of the acupuncture points and that this may have been the reason for the effectiveness of the acupuncture.
Reporting on TCM theory concerning healthy sleep, the researchers note that sleep is regarded as a cycle. There is an energetic daytime functioning of individuals and a restful nocturnal sleep portion of the cycle. If the cycle is broken, there may be low spiritedness in the daytime and hyperarousal states in the nighttime. The function of acupuncture is to restore the normal cycle. Acupuncture points used in the study were classically based selections from TCM:
- Shenting (DU24)
- Sishencong (EX-HN1)
- Baihui (DU20)
- Shenmen (HT7)
- Sanyinjiao (SP6)
Acupuncture not only restored nighttime sleep but also improved daytime energetics. In contrast, patients in the estazolam medication group experienced adverse effects. This included daytime sleepiness that typically ceased by midday. The researchers note, “The trial implied that verum acupuncture was superior in improving sleep quality and daytime functioning of primary insomnia compared with estazolam and sham acupuncture.” The researchers also note that true acupuncture increased total sleep time and “improved sleep quality (SQ) and vitality (VT), decreased daytime dysfunction (DD) and sleepiness (ESS score).”
Acupuncture combined with antidepressants is safe and effective for the treatment of depression. A meta-analysis of thirteen quality randomized-controlled trials published in the Journal of Affective Disorders finds acupuncture combined with antidepressant therapy is “more effective than antidepressants alone….” The therapeutic effects of the combination are rapid and the data finds acupuncture effective in reducing the adverse effects associated with antidepressant medications.
Researchers note, “This meta-analysis reveals clear evidence of greater antidepressant activity with acupuncture combined with a(n) SSRIs compared with SSRIs alone….” SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are a class of antidepressants that increase levels of serotonin in the brain. The researchers note that acupuncture has been shown to stimulate neurotransmitters in the brain thereby increasing serotonin and norepinephrine levels. They add that acupuncture increases the “activity of serotonergic neurons in the reward system pathway of the brain.” They note, “Acupuncture treatments have also been shown to increase nocturnal melatonin secretion and reduce insomnia and anxiety.”
The researchers note that acupuncture’s ability to increase opiod peptides in the body may account for its ability to provide rapid relief from depression. They note, “acupuncture is capable of rapidly increasing the bodily release of endogenous opioid peptides associated with the production of pleasure and relief of anxiety and gastrointestinal discomfort.”
The researchers cite laboratory research finding electroacupuncture and manual acupuncture effective in relieving depression. Real-time polymerase chain reaction genomic research confirms that acupuncture normalizes a broad spectrum of gene expression, decreases damage to hippocampal neurons, and regulates “serum levels of corticosterone and adrenocorticotropic hormone.” The researchers note that “acupuncture may treat depression by influencing the neuroendocrine and immune systems through the regulation of levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, endorphins and glucocorticoids…, stimulating hypothalamic and hippocampal responses…, and by regulating the expression of certain genes.”
The researchers note that acupuncture may be an effective standalone treatment modality for partial responders and nonresponders to antidepressant medications. Citing Wu et al., they note “that acupuncture has the potential to be an effective, safe and well-tolerated monotherapy for depression and a viable augmentation agent for partial responders and nonresponders to antidepressant treatment.” They add that two other meta-analyses confirm these findings citing that acupuncture “significantly reduces depressive severity” and is safe and effective for post-stroke depression patients.
The researchers analysed the trials and determined a set of acupuncture points that were most commonly used across all of the studies:
Topping the list for the most common points across all studies were acupuncture points GV20 and Yintang. The total sample size was 1,046 human subjects. The total number of acupuncture treatments ranged between 9 and 36. The majority of participants received acupuncture in the course of a six week treatment window.
Acupuncture speeds restoration of consciousness following general anesthesia. Researchers used sham controls and determined that induction of pain did not play a role in this recuperative process. The research team notes that the ability of acupuncture to accelerate the revival of consciousness may be due to its ability to enhance cerebral blood flow, cardiac output and ventilation. The researchers add that acupuncture may help to optimize operating room management by improving “turnover time by accelerating recovery time.”
The researchers investigated the effects of two acupuncture points: DU26, KI1. Their data indicates that these points accelerate the revival of consciousness and that these acupuncture points, when used together, may have a synergistic effect. Citing several other studies, the researchers note that the data supports the use of acupuncture in the perioperative setting for many purposes. The researchers document that acupuncture has been employed for several perioperative uses: reduction of opioid use, stabilization of cardiac function, reduction of nausea and vomiting, and alleviation of the adverse effects due to anesthesia and surgery.
The researchers cite important SPECT imaging findings including that acupuncture increases cerebral blood flow for patients with brain injuries. The increase is correlated with “improvements in consciousness.” Electroacupuncture at DU26 increases ventilation for both the frequency and amplitude of breathing. Additionally, reports suggest that acupuncture enhances the recovery of consciousness after cardiac arrest and hypovolemic shock.
The researchers outlined the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theoretical principles relating to consciousness and acupuncture. The ancient principles stipulate that consciousness resides in the heart and is supported by the kidneys. The researchers suggest that this may be a clue as to why acupuncture point KI1, a jing-well point of the kidney channel, is effective in reviving consciousness.
The researchers cited several other TCM theories. Loss of consciousness is due to yin or yang deficiency. It may also be caused by jue syndrome, which is from an imbalance between qi and blood “induced by deficiency of qi and accumulation of phlegm.”
The researchers note that TCM theory suggests that loss of consciousness may be due to imbalances of yin and yang and further note that this may be why acupuncture point DU26 has historically been employed for resuscitation. They note that DU26 is “located near the meeting point of Renmai with Dumai channels, the meridians receiving yang from heaven and yin from earth respectively.” They add that DU26, located above the upper lip on the midline at the junction of the upper third and lower two thirds of the philtrum, has historically been considered one of the most important acupuncture points in TCM for resuscitation.
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