Latest Acupuncture News
- Acupuncture Relieves Anxiety and Fear
- Acupuncture Relieves Constipation
- Acupuncture Halts Urinary Incontinence
- Acupuncture Reduces Shoulder-Hand Syndrome Pain
- Acupuncture Boosts Paroxetine Antidepressant Effects
- Acupuncture Plus TCM Helps Muscular Dystrophy Patients
- Acupuncture Frees Movement From Sports Injuries
Acupuncture Continuing Education News
Acupuncture reduces anxiety levels. Researchers from Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine investigated the efficacy of electroacupuncture at Huatuojiaji acupoints combined with scalp acupoints for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The results were compared with a traditional acupuncture group and a drug therapy group. The electroacupuncture group had a total effective rate of 96.7% and the traditional acupuncture group achieved an 83.3% total effective rate. The drug therapy group, receiving paroxetine, achieved a 73.3% total effective rate. Based on the findings, the researchers conclude that electroacupuncture at Huatuojiaji and scalp acupuncture points is effective for the treatment of GAD.
GAD is characterized by excessive worry and a feeling of anxiousness. Symptoms include the inability to relax, difficulty concentrating, startling easily, insomnia, headaches, exhaustion, muscle tension, nausea, and irritability. There may be concomitant excessive sweating, difficulty swallowing, twitching, frequent urination, palpitations, and lightheadedness.
All three approaches investigated delivered significant positive patient outcomes. Interestingly, both forms of acupuncture that were studied outperformed the drug therapy. The medication used was paroxetine hydrochloride tablets, 20 mg, taken twice per day. Brand names for paroxetine hydrochloride include Paxil, Brisdelle, and Pexeva. Paroxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) often prescribed for depression, anxiety, and PTSD. For the electroacupuncture group, 1.5” filiform needles of gauge 30 were applied to Huatuojiaji points slanted medially to a 0.5” to 1” depth. For scalp acupuncture, needles were applied to the emotional area as described by Wang et al.
Acupuncture is effective for relieving slow transit constipation (STC). Slow transit refers to the slow passage of feces through the large intestine. STC is a type of functional constipation that is present in approximately 15 to 30% of constipated individuals and is characterized by strained bowel movements with lumpy or hard stools. STC involves fewer than three bowel movements per week and is accompanied by a sensation of incomplete evacuation. There may be concomitant abdominal pain, nausea, and low appetite. The incidence of STC increases with age.
In a meta-analysis, researchers document that acupuncture, electroacupuncture, and moxibustion are effective treatment modalities for STC. The single most frequently used acupuncture point for the treatment of STC across all of the studies demonstrating that acupuncture is effective is Tianshu (ST25, Heaven’s Pivot). This acupoint is located bilaterally on the abdomen, 2 cun lateral to the navel. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles, this is the Front-Mu acupoint of the large intestine. Traditional functions for this acupoint include regulating the intestines, spleen, and stomach. In addition, ST25 resolves dampness, damp-heat, qi stagnation, and blood stasis. Given the traditional functions, it is no surprise to find ST25 is in common use for the resolution of STC.
Traditional indications for the use of ST25 lend insight as to why many researchers investigated its efficacy for the treatment of STC. Indications include the treatment of diarrhea, constipation, undigested food, edema, dysuria, intestinal abscesses, abdominal pain, abdominal distention, and dysmenorrhea. The overall TCM principle garnered by the researchers was that ST25 dredges Qi in the large intestine to restore transit functionality.
Acupuncture helps women with stress urinary incontinence (SUI). This condition is characterized by leakage of urine during physical activity, standing, sexual intercourse, sneezing, or coughing. Stress incontinence is due to pelvic floor muscle weakness leading to increased pressure on the bladder upon stress. Risk factors include pelvic surgery, hormonal deficiencies, and delayed second stage of labor. Forceps delivery may also be associated with this condition. The researchers discovered that a special acupuncture procedure produces a total effective rate of 93.3%.
Standard care treatments include pelvic floor muscle exercises, retiming of fluid consumption, urethral inserts, injectable bulking agents, and several surgical procedures. In this study of 60 female patients with SUI, a control group practicing pelvic muscle floor exercises was compared with a treatment group receiving acupuncture combined with pelvic floor muscle exercises. The average symptom duration for all patients was between 9.7 and 10 years.
The pelvic floor muscle exercises were practiced every day for 30 days. Acupuncture was applied to a series of acupoints known as Baliao, translated as eight crevices. This series of 4 points are individually known as Shang Liao (BL31), Ci Liao (BL32), Zhong Liao (BL33), and Xia Liao (BL34). The acupoints are located over the first through fourth sacral foramen.
Deep needling was applied at angles between 30 and 45 degrees. Needle retention time was 20 minutes per session. Moxibustion was applied to warm the needles. Acupuncture treatments were applied 5 times per week for a total of 6 weeks. The control group had a total effective rate of 70% and the acupuncture treatment group had a total effective rate of 93.3%.
The researchers note that use of the acupuncture point prescription used in the study is consistent with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory. Many urinary disorders are related to kidney deficiency and qi deficiency. Baliao points are traditionally used to nourish kidney qi and regulate urination. Baliao points regulate the bladder and stimulate local muscles. As a result, the acupuncture point prescription is consistent with TCM principles of treatment.
Acupuncture alleviates shoulder-hand syndrome (SHS), a complex regional pain syndrome of the upper limbs often caused by a stroke. SHS involves sudden swelling and extreme pain as a complication after the onset of hemiplegia. The condition may also be referred to as reflex dystrophy syndrome. Researchers conducted a controlled experiment finding acupuncture effective in reducing pain and swelling of the shoulder and hand due to SHS. The total effective rate of acupuncture combined with infrared therapy was 97.10%.
A total of 126 patients with SHS were randomly divided into an acupuncture group and a control group. The control group underwent physical therapy and the acupuncture group received acupuncture combined with infrared laser therapy. Physical therapy sessions were conducted for the control group at a rate of twice per day. Each physical therapy session was 40 minutes in length. Physical therapy sessions were conducted over a 4 week period. For the acupuncture group, filiform needles were applied to the following acupoints:
- Nei Guan, PC6
- Yang Xi, LI5
- Ren Ying, ST9
- Chi Ze, LU5
- Ji Quan, HE1
Acupuncture increases the effectiveness of paroxetine (Paxil, Aropax) for the treatment of depression. Researchers from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine conducted a controlled investigation and found that both manual and electroacupuncture significantly increase the total effective rate of paroxetine. Prior research by Qu et al. finds acupuncture effective for enhancing the effects of paroxetine for the treatment of major depression. The Beijing University of Chinese Medicine researchers build on these findings by demonstrating that acupuncture enhances the effects of paroxetine for the treatment of mild and moderate level depression.
The researchers discovered a great advantage to adding acupuncture therapy to paroxetine therapy. Not only did acupuncture enhance antidepressant actions, it also significantly reduced adverse effects caused by the medication. Acupuncture reduced levels of paroxetine induced urinary disorders, sexual dysfunction, headaches, dizziness, constipation, and insomnia.
Patients with mild to moderate depression were selected according to inclusion and exclusion criteria from the Peking University Sixth Hospital, First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Southern Medical University, and the Baotou City Mental Health Center. A total of 72 patients were randomly divided into three groups. One group received electroacupuncture and paroxetine. Another group received manual acupuncture and paroxetine. A third control group received only paroxetine.
The electroacupuncture plus paroxetine group had an effective rate of 95%. The manual acupuncture plus paroxetine group had an 81.48% effective rate. The paroxetine only group had a 50% effective rate.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) improves patient outcomes for patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Researchers from Zhengzhou Children’s hospital combined acupuncture, far infrared therapy, TCM tuina massage, herbal medicine, and drug therapy into a protocolized regimen of care. The combined therapy delivered significant results including reduced physical impairments and improvements in both walking and staircase climbing. In addition, significant reductions in inflammatory related muscle enzyme secretions were achieved.
The researchers admitted 60 pediatric DMD patients into the Neurology and Rehabilitation Department at Zhengzhou Children’s hospital for a two year randomized controlled trial. The participants were randomly divided into two groups. One group received the full compliment of care including acupuncture, far infrared, massage, herbs, and drugs. The second group received the identical drug therapy but no other modalities of care were included in the treatment regimen. The group receiving the full compliment of care had significantly greater physical improvements and better muscle enzyme results.
The drugs only group had negligible enzyme improvements. The group receiving drugs plus acupuncture and other TCM modalities demonstrated significant downregulation of creatine phosphokinase (CPK), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), and aspartate transaminase (AST). Elevation of these enzymes is a marker for muscle disease, including in the heart. The combined therapeutic regimen of care successfully reduced CPK, LDH, and AST levels.
The total effective rate improved by 20% with the combined regimen of care over drugs only care. The total effective rate was calculated by three parameters of improvement: full recovery, significant recovery, effective. A full recovery was defined as symptoms and bodily physical signs were restored to relatively normal levels for a child, including time needed to walk 10 meters and climb a 2 meter staircase. Enzymes CPK, LDH, and AST decreased by more than 50%.
Acupuncture and herbs restore motility for patients with motor impairments due to sports injuries. Researchers from the Physical Education Institute at Zhengzhou University investigated the effects of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) style acupuncture and herbs on amateur and professional athletes suffering from motor impairments due to the demands of physical training. The researchers concluded that restoration of motility is significant as a result of applying acupuncture and herbs. However, an additive effect was discovered by combining acupuncture and herbs into a therapeutic regimen. The combination therapy produced superior patient outcomes.
Participants in the study suffered from physical motility limitations. Head and neck impairments accounted for 42% of the patients. Upper limb impairments comprised 24.6% and lower limb impairments accounted for 85.4% of participants. Acute physical limitations accounted for 85.4% of participants and 14.6% were patients with chronic motility impairments.
The total effective rate was calculated from a combination of patients in three categories of improvement: cured, effective, and improved. Patients rated as cured had freer movements of the limbs without any limitations and were able to participate in normal physical training. Patients in the effective category had complete resolution of soreness at the affected regions and movement was free and without limitation at lower levels of physically demanding activity. Improved patients had reduced pain levels and patients were able to perform simple exercises.
The total effective rate for the acupuncture only group was 70%. The herbal medicine group achieved a 62% total effective rate. A group receiving both acupuncture and herbal medicine achieved a total effective rate of 84.4%. The researchers concluded that acupuncture combined with herbs is highly effective for the treatment of physical activity induced motility impairments. The combined therapeutic approach is more effective than either treatment modality as a standalone procedure.
Many of the herbs used in the study were selected for their ability to nourish the liver, kidneys, spleen, and stomach. Another major treatment principle was promoting blood circulation. The herbal medicine given to the participants included Gou Qi Zi, Shan Yao, Di Long, DangGui, and related herbs. A decoction was taken once per day by participants for a total of 30 times.
Acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicine cures pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). This disorder is an infection of the female reproductive organs and may present as an acute emergency or a chronic illness. PID commonly involves infection of the uterus, fallopian tubes, or ovaries. In many cases, bacteria from the vagina or cervix transmits to these regions leading to PID. Gonorrhea and chlamydia are major causes of this disorder but there are many other causes including infections following abdominal surgery. Congealed exudate from the infection may cause salpingitis and subsequent infertility.
In China, approximately 2 million new cases of PID are reported every year. In the US, is it estimated that over 1 million women experience PID every year. The major symptoms are abdominal pain accompanied by leukorrhea, vaginal discharge.
Researchers published their findings in the Medical Innovation of China journal. The study involved 90 patients with chronic pelvic inflammatory disease. A comparison was made between using only herbal medicine and another group receiving herbal medicine combined with acupuncture. The average age of the patients was 35 and the average symptoms duration was 1.7 years.
The herbal medicine given to patients in both groups contained:
- Dang gui 10g
- Gan Jiang 5g
- Xiao Hui Xiang 10g
- Wu Ling Zhi 5g
- Wu Zhu Yu 10g
A decoction was made and was consumed twice per day, morning and night. For patients with severe PID, the consumption rate was increased to 3 times per day. The group receiving acupuncture combined with herbal medicine received 20 minute needle retention time acupuncture sessions. The acupuncture points used for the patients were:
- Zhong Ji (CV3)
- Guan Yuan (CV4)
- Qi Hai (CV6)
- San Yin Jiao (SP6)
- Zu San Li (ST36)
- Zi Gong (extra point)
Scalp acupuncture enhances neurologic repair and reduces cerebral edema due to an intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), a type of stroke. Researchers conducted a laboratory experiment on laboratory rats and discovered that acupuncture improves neurologic functions following an ICH. Additionally, a biochemical analysis reveals that acupuncture regulates expression of MMP-9 (matrix metallopeptidase), an enzyme that breaks down extracellular matrix and is involved in tissue remodeling.
Functional improvements included significant enhancements of limb bending, ability to stand, performance of voluntary movements, and a reduction of paralysis. The procedure used to achieve the clinical results was the application of the threading needle technique combined with scalp acupuncture. Acupuncture point Baihui (GV20) was connected to Xuanli (GB6) using the threading technique. The procedure was tested against a control group and demonstrated significant clinical efficacy in cerebral edema reduction, functional improvements, and regulation of MMP-9.
Acupuncture enhanced resorption of blood stasis due to internal bleeding. Combined with acupuncture’s ability to regulate of MMP-9, the researchers suggest that these objective results contributed to the enhanced neurologic functional recovery and reduction of internal bleeding. The researchers gave a brief summary for the basis of the investigation citing prior research.
Acupuncture effectively relieves inflammation and swelling of the nose for patients with allergic rhinitis. The condition involves inflammation of the nasal membranes leading to various symptoms: stuffy nose, runny nose, itching, postnasal drip, headache, fatigue, red eyes, sneezing. Research published in the International Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine investigated traditional acupuncture and a new procedure based on acupuncture techniques. Both approaches to patient care were effective in relieving chronic allergic rhinitis.
The traditional acupuncture group received treatment with 0.30 mm X 40 mm acupuncture needles. The primary acupuncture points employed in the investigation were:
- Yintang (extra point)
- Fengchi (GB20)
- Fengfu (DU16)
- Zusanli (ST36)
Secondary acupuncture points included:
- Shangxing (DU23)
- Hegu (LI4)
- Feishu (BL13)
- Pishu (BL20)
- Shenshu (BL23)
- Sanyinjiao (SP6)
The acupuncture sessions involved the selection of 1 primary acupuncture point combined with 1 - 2 secondary acupuncture points, based on patient differential diagnoses. The treatment duration was 4 consecutive weeks at a rate of 2 times per week for a grand total of 8 acupuncture treatments.
The new procedure was applied to a separate study group other than that of the traditional acupuncture group. The procedure involved acupuncture needle stimulation of the sphenopalatine ganglion. The technique was innovated by Prof. Li Xinwu, former Beijing Tongren Hospital director of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery. The research documents that approximately 130,000 patients have undergone this procedure for the treatment of allergic rhinitis. This procedure requires special training on the part of the practitioner.
Acupuncture improves leukocyte counts in patients suffering from hyperthyroidism combined with leukopenia. Hyperthyroidism is a disorder wherein the thyroid gland, located in the anterior aspect of the neck, produces excessive quantities of thyroid hormone.This may lead to a variety of symptoms including anxiety, tremors, fatigue, weight loss, rapid heart beat, sweating, and insomnia. Hyperthyroidism may cause leukopenia, which is a pathological decrease in the white blood cell (WBC) count. Several types of medications may also cause leukopenia. Research published in the Clinical Journal of Chinese Medicine demonstrates that acupuncture successfully increases leukocytes for patients with hyperthyroidism combined with leukopenia.
The experiments compared two groups. The integrative medicine group received both acupuncture and a pharmaceutical medication. The biomedical group received the identical medication but did not receive acupuncture. A total of 42 patients were randomly and evenly divided into the two groups. The combined numbers included 24 male and 18 female patients with an average age of 34 years.
Inclusion criteria specified three primary requirements. All patients must have hyperthyroidism combined with leukopenia, no signs or symptoms of infection, and must be between 18 and 70 years of age. Patients were excluded from this study using the following criteria:
- Use of antimalarial drugs, chemotherapy, antibacterials, anti-inflammatories, etc….
- Pregnant or lactating
- Severe mental disturbance diagnoses
- Allergic to the drug Leucogen
- Patients taking part in other clinical experiments
All patients in both groups took 40 mg Leucogen tablets at a rate of 3 times per day. Patients in the integrative medicine group received acupuncture in addition to the medication regimen. Acupuncture was applied once per day for 4 weeks with a needle retention time of 30 minutes per session. The primary acupuncture points used in the study included:
- Ge Shu (BL17)
- Pi Shu (BL20)
- San Yin Jiao (SP6)
- Guan Yuan (CV4)
- Qi Hai (CV6)
- Zu San Li (ST36)
- Xue Hai (SP10)
The total efficacy rate was based on a combination of full efficacy and notable efficacy. Full efficacy involved the complete restoration of leukocyte counts to normal with concomitant improvement of clinical symptoms at a 4 week check-up. Notable efficacy documented specific and significant increases in leukocytes concomitant with improvements in clinical symptoms.
Researchers confirm that acupuncture and other Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) procedures are effective Parkinson’s disease treatment modalities. Specialized TCM procedures demonstrating efficaciousness include scalp acupuncture, moxibustion, and acupotomy. The researchers conducted a meta-analysis and concluded that acupuncture significantly improves the overall condition of Parkinson’s disease patients.
Parkinson’s disease is a nervous system disorder characterized by tremors, slow movements (bradykinesia), rigidity of musculature, balance disorders, and difficulty with daily activities including writing and speaking. There is no known cure for Parkinson’s disease. Medications used to control Parkinson’s disease include levodopa, dopamine agonists, MAO-B inhibitors, COMT inhibitors, anticholinergics, and amantadine. Additionally, deep brain stimulation and surgery may be employed.
Parkinson’s disease was recognised as a biomedical condition in the occident after the publication of James Parkinson’s An Essay on the Shaking Palsy in 1817. James Parkinson became a surgeon at the age of 29 in 1784 after graduating from London Hospital Medical College. A decorated humanitarian, Dr. Parkinson advocated for progressive social reforms.
Various forms of tremor disorders and their treatment regimens have been documented for over 1,000 years in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The research conducted by Qiu Congsheng et al. evaluates several approaches to symptomatic improvements. The researchers add that an advantage to acupuncture treatments is that, unlike many medications used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, it does not cause dyskinesia.
The meta-analysis examined the groundbreaking work of Zhou Sha. A sample size of 40 patients was treated with the following primary acupuncture points:
- Ya Men (DU15)
- Feng Chi (GB20)
- Wan Gu (SI4)
- Tian Shu (ST25)
The research demonstrates that the patients had significant improvements in physical, behavioral, and mental indices. Yuan Yin et al. used the same primary acupuncture points and achieved significant improvements for patients with Parkinson’s disease. The acupoint prescription is referred to as the ‘Lu Di 7 point’ combination. Three of the acupoints are bilateral and one acupoint is unilateral for a total of 7 acupuncture points. In another body of work examined in the meta-analysis, Huang Na et al. demonstrated that scalp acupuncture benefitted patients and significant reductions of insomnia were achieved.
TCM body style acupuncture has been shown to benefit Parkinson’s disease patients. Ren Xiaoming et al. targeted their treatment strategy towards befitting the liver and kidney and achieved significant positive patient outcomes for patients with Parkinson’s disease. The primary acupuncture points were:
- Gan Yu (BL18)
- Xian Yu (BL23)
- Feng Chi (GB20)
- Qu Chi (LI11)
- He Gu (LI4)
- Yang Ling Quan (GB34)
- Tai Xi (KD3)
- Tai Chong (LV3)
Yao Xiaoping randomly distributed 57 patients with Parkinson’s disease into a treatment group and control group, which consisted of 30 and 27 patients respectively. The treatment group patients received acupuncture plus levodopa. Patients from the control group received only levodopa. After a month, researchers compared results obtained from both groups and assessed criteria such as facial expression, posture, linguistic ability, pace, dyskinesia, shaking, rigidity, etc.... The treatment group achieved a total efficacy rate of 93.3% and the control group achieved a 66.7% total effective rate. The results indicate that combining acupuncture therapy with levodopa has additive or synergistic effects. In other findings, Zhu Fangjian et al. demonstrated that acupuncture alleviates constipation for patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Wang Shun et al. employed the use of threading style acupuncture with a high total effective rate for relieving the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. Primary threaded acupoint pairs included:
- Qian Ding (DU21) - Xuan Lu (GB5)
- Nao Hu (DU17) - Feng Fu (DU16)
- Yu Zhen (BL9) - Tian Zhu (BL10)
- Nao Kong (GB19) - Feng Chi (GB20)
Xu Guoqing et al. focused on the TCM principles of alleviating liver and kidney disorders, controlling damp stagnation, and improving blood circulation. The researchers note that this acupuncture treatment protocol lessened the toxic adverse effects due to medication consumption and reduced tremors.
Researchers find acupuncture combined with herbal medicine effective for the treatment of insomnia. A randomized-controlled study of 200 patients, published in the Clinical Journal of Chinese Medicine, investigated the efficaciousness of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) herbal formulas combined with a protocolized acupuncture point prescription. Acupuncture, as a standalone therapeutic modality, achieved a total effective rate of 85%. The combined herbal and acupuncture therapeutic regimen achieved a total effective rate of 93%.
Clinical improvements achieved with acupuncture and herbal medicine include improved sleep time and sleep quality. Additional benefits include alleviation of headaches and fatigue. The researchers concluded that acupuncture plus TCM herbal medicine is effective for the treatment of insomnia and is characterized by a high total effective rate, lower recurrence rate, and rapid onset of relief.
The herbal medicines found effective include the following formulas:
- Gui Pi Tang
- E Jiao Tang
- Bao He Wan
- Long Dan Xie Gan Tang
The acupuncture point prescription used in the study included the following acupoints:
- Shenmai (BL62)
- Zhaohai (KD6)
- Baihui (DU20)
- Neiguan (PC6)
- Shenmen (HT7)
- Sanyinjiao (SP6)
Xi et al. conducted a similar randomized-controlled investigation of 98 patients with insomnia. This study added massage to the herbal medicine and acupuncture regimen. The data was analyzed using the PSQI (Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index). The total efficacy rate was 93.88%. The researchers concluded that a comprehensive treatment of acupuncture, TCM herbal medicine, and massage improves sleep quality and reduces insomnia.
The primary acupuncture points used in the study include:
- Baihui (DU20)
- Shenting (DU24)
- Benshen (GB13)
- Shenmen (HT7)
Additional acupoints were added for specific indications. For forgetfulness, SP6 was added. For headaches or palpitations, LV2 (Xingjian) and PC6 were added. For loss of appetite, SP20 (Zhongruan) and ST36 (Zusanli) were added. For nervousness, LI4 (Hegu) and GB9 (Taichong) were added. For patients with weakness and dizziness, CV4 (Guanyuan) and GB9 were added.
Acupuncture provides important therapeutic clinical benefits for trigeminal neuralgia patients and shortens the duration of hospitalization. A recent investigation finds acupuncture effective in eliminating trigeminal neuralgia symptoms with both a high cure rate and total effective rate. Trigeminal neuralgia is a severe facial pain disorder following the distribution of cranial nerve V. The pain is often unilateral, stabbing, paroxysmal, and excruciating. The condition is exacerbated by daily activities including speaking, chewing, smiling, cold or hot fluid intake, physical touch, exposure to cold air, and teeth brushing.
Researchers conducted a controlled experiment comparing the efficaciousness of carbamazepine with acupuncture. Carbamazepine is an FDA approved anticonvulsant drug used for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia and is also used for controlling seizures in epileptic patients and mania in bipolar patients. A total of 22 out of 40 patients in the carbamazepine group fully recovered. A total of 30 out of 40 patients fully recovered in the acupuncture group. This yields a 55% cure rate for carbamazepine and 70% for acupuncture.
Acupuncture demonstrated a higher total effective rate than carbamazepine. The total effective rate includes all patient improvements ranging from mild to cured. Carbamazepine achieved an 87.50% total effective rate and acupuncture achieved a 95% total effective rate. Based on the findings, the researchers suggest implementing a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) protocol for patients with trigeminal neuralgia wherein both pharmaceutical medications and acupuncture are combined in a treatment regimen. They suggest that this may produce even greater results than using either modality as a standalone therapy. Acupuncture continuing education research is needed to determine if an additive or synergistic effect can be achieved by combining drugs with TCM procedures for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia.
Researchers discovered that a type of acupuncture, referred to as electroacupuncture, is effective for inhibiting hypertrophic scar formation. Electroacupuncture is a form of acupuncture wherein an electric current is run between the needles. A hypertrophic scar is a cutaneous condition involving excessive collagen deposits during wound healing. This affects aesthetic appearances and may result in various forms of psychological dysfunction in serious cases. Although different treatment strategies targeted at hypertrophic scars are practiced, there is yet to be a definitive treatment protocol for this condition. The results demonstrate that electroacupuncture regulates and impedes regeneration of fibrous tissues, prevents adhesions during recuperation, and improves blood circulation at scar areas. Also, electroacupuncture is effective in softening and lightening scars, decreases the size of scars, and reduces scar thickness.
A recent experiment was conducted by researchers at Yantai Binzhou Medical University to investigate acupuncture’s ability to prevent scar formation. A total of 18 New Zealand rabbits were randomly distributed into 3 groups. The control group received manual acupuncture. Group A received electroacupuncture using continuous frequency current. Group B received electroacupuncture using electrical current with alternating frequencies.
The researchers used a Huatuo brand electroacupuncture machine and sterile, single-use acupuncture needles of size 0.25 mm X 0.25 mm. All rabbits were anesthetized and had their ears marked with four 1.5 cm X 1.5 cm squarish surgical wounds, each distanced at least 1 cm from another. After sterilization, researchers cut the skin to create wounds. After 20 days, they repeated the process above by cutting open the original wound and removing new tissues and created new wounds the size of 1.5 cm x 1.5 cm. At this point, the wounds were allowed to heal naturally.
When all models were ready, researches practiced the following steps daily for 30 days.
- Control group: Insertion of acupuncture needles was diagonal, 0.5 cm from the hypertrophic wounds using 4 needles. The needles were inserted to a depth of 0.5 cm and were retained for 15 minutes.
- Group A: Researchers connected the top of the needles to the electroacupuncture machine and applied 2 mA continuous current for 15 minutes at wound areas.
- Group B: Alternating 2 and 100 Hz current of 2 mA was applied. Needle retention time was 15 minutes.
Researchers conclude that acupuncture combined with the herbal formula Huoxue Shengfa is safe and effective for alleviating alopecia areata. This condition is a type of hair loss typically characterized by round bald patches. In recent clinical experiments, 62 outpatient cases with alopecia areata were randomly and evenly distributed into a treatment group and a control group. The treatment group was treated with acupuncture combined with Huoxue Shengfa decoction. The control group received treatment with acupuncture combined with Compound Glycyrrhizin tablets.
The 31 outpatients from the treatment group consisted of 16 male and 15 female patients ranging from 18 to 40 years old with an average symptom duration of approximately 7.5 months. The control group was comprised of 16 male and 15 female patients ranging from 18 to 37 years old with an average symptom duration of approximately 7 months.
Inclusion criteria included:
- Sudden loss of hair that happened rapidly
- Hair loss areas were primarily round or oval shaped
- Widespread alopecia patches
- Symptoms were discovered inadvertently
- Affected areas had no conspicuous symptoms of organic disease
- Mental stress, persistent worrying, insomnia, forgetfulness
- Dark tongue color with white patches
- Pulse readings reveal stasis
- Positive hair pull test result
Exclusion criteria included:
- Infectious hair loss
- Serious nerve or mental illness
- Hemorrhage tendency
- Serious coagulation dysfunction
Both groups received 7-star (plum blossom) acupuncture twice per week at hair loss areas, moving from the outer edge of each alopecia patch towards the center, in a clockwise direction. Acupuncture was applied lightly, rapidly, and accurately until flushing appeared.
The treatment group patients orally consumed the Huoxue Shengfa decoction 3 times per day, 200 ml each time. The ingredients of the formula are:
- Dang Gui 30g
- Dan Shen 30g
- Yu Jin 15g
- Ling Xiao Hua 15g
- Bai Shao 10g
- Tian Ma 10g
- He Shou Wu 15g
- Wu Shao She 10g
- Gan Cao 9g
The control group patients consumed Compound Glycyrrhizin tablets (also known as Shuai Neng, manufactured by LePu YaoYe GuFen Company) after their meals at a rate of 3 times per day, 75 mg each dosage. The treatment period was 4 weeks and the results were observed and recorded 12 weeks after 3 treatments were implemented on both groups.
Georgetown University Medical Center and University of Hong Kong researchers find acupuncture effective for the treatment of chronic stress. In a unique laboratory investigation, researchers discovered that electroacupuncture at acupuncture point ST36 “prevents the stress-induced increases in HPA hormones, and has potentially long lasting effects.” In addition, behavioral tests show electroacupuncture is an effective modality in eliminating “depressive and anxious behavior.”
The researchers note that the use of electroacupuncture (EA) “may provide utility in management of clinical chronic stress-related disorders, with minimal side effects.” Electroacupuncture at ST36 on laboratory rats was found significantly more effective than sham controls “in reducing depression-like behavior.” Both latency to immobility and duration of immobility due to stress were significantly reduced in the electroacupuncture group versus the sham control group. In addition, electroacupuncture at ST36 effectively prevents increases in stress related hormones versus the sham control group.
The researchers tested the effective biological mechanisms of electroacupuncture at ST36 by implementing a glucocorticoid blockade using RU-486, a synthetic anti-progesterone and antiglucocorticoid drug often employed as an abortifacient. The testing reveals that electroacupuncture at ST36 is likely to act through the central regulation of CRH (corticotropin-releasing hormone) and not directly through cortisol (CORT) and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) feedback. ACTH is produced in the pituitary gland in response to CRH, which is released by the hypothalamus.
The researchers discovered that electroacupuncture prevents elevations of the HPA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis) hormones “minutes after exposure to painful cold stress.” This was effective for true electroacupuncture at ST36 but not at the sham non-acupoint, indicating point specificity. The sham electroacupuncture point did not prevent elevations of ACTH and CORT whereas true acupuncture was effective.
Researchers document that acupuncture and herbs are effective in the relief of insomnia. In a recent finding, investigators have discovered that combining acupuncture and herbs into a comprehensive treatment regimen greatly enhances the total effective rate. The controlled clinical experiment investigated three separate groups. An acupuncture group, an herbal medicine group, and a combination group receiving both acupuncture and herbs were compared.
Acupuncture was administered at a rate of one treatment every three days with a total of four acupuncture sessions per course of care. Two courses of care were administered with an interval of three days for all groups. Before and after treatment, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was used to analyze the data. The acupuncture group received treatment at the following acupuncture points:
The herbal medicine group received the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) modified formula Ningxin Anshen. The primary ingredients of the formula are:
- Huang Lian
- Hu Po
- Shi Chang Pu
- Yuan Zhi
- Fu Ling
- Dan Shen
- Gan Cao
- Hong Zao
- Fu Xiao Mai
- Ci Shi
- Zhen Zhu Mu
According to TCM principles, this herbal formula has sedative properties. TCM theory states that it calms the shen, the spirit, and has a tranquilizing effect. The formula is also noted for promoting blood circulation, benefitting the liver, reducing dizziness, and benefitting patients with a deficiency constitution marked by a weak pulse. Indications for use of this formula include insomnia, irritability, hot flashes, palpitations, redness of the cheeks, menopausal symptoms with heat, neurasthenia, persistent thirst, depression, and discomfort of the heart and chest region.
Researchers find acupuncture effective for alleviating chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) for patients with colon cancer. Neurotoxicity from chemotherapy may damage nerve fibers and lead to symptoms including pain, burning sensations, tingling, muscle weakness, balance disorders, paresthesia, dysesthesia, cold or heat sensitivity in the hands and feet, and a “glove and stocking” distribution of symptoms. The paresthesia is often experienced as a bilateral pins and needles sensation. Severity ranges from mild to debilitating. The researchers summarize their findings into three main benefits of acupuncture for patients with CIPN:
- Acupuncture administered prior to chemotherapy prevents CIPN.
- Use of acupuncture during chemotherapy inhibits the progression of CIPN.
- Administration of acupuncture after completion of chemotherapy eliminates or reduces persistent symptoms.
The research was conducted at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America at the Southwestern Regional Medical Center located in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The investigators applied Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) style acupuncture to 10 patients with chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy. They note that “all of the patients reported or had improvement in their CIPN grades after starting acupuncture.”
The researchers note that using customized acupuncture point prescriptions in the TCM style produces superior patient outcomes when the use of distal acupuncture points are employed. The researchers emphasize the need for customization of the acupoint prescriptions per each patient’s differential diagnostics for maximum clinical efficacy. In addition, they emphasize that distal acupoints “increase blood flow” and therefore have an especially important role in the treatment of CIPN.
The researchers note that CIPN symptoms are “typically dose-dependent”. As a result, CIPN may limit the amount of chemotherapy a patient can tolerate thereby interfering with the efficacy of anticancer therapy. This is particularly prevalent with drugs containing platinum including oxaliplatin, an important drug in the treatment of colorectal cancer.
Acupuncture reduces blood pressure for patients with prehypertension and stage 1 hypertension. Researchers investigated patients with mild hypertension to determine the efficacy of acupuncture in combating high blood pressure. Acupuncture successfully reduced both systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) after 8 weeks of acupuncture treatments.
The study measured an acupuncture group and a control group receiving no treatment. The baseline blood pressure for the acupuncture patients was 137.1 / 86.4 prior to treatment. The researchers note, “In this study, acupuncture decreased SBP and DBP by approximately 6.0 and 5.7 mmHg, respectively, suggesting its potential benefits for patients with prehypertension and stage 1 hypertension.” Based on their findings, the researchers suggest that the duration and frequency of acupuncture treatments for hypertension should be at least 4 weeks at a rate of 2 or more times per week.
The researchers note that the diastolic blood pressure and HRV heart rate variability) indices improved significantly. HRV measures the change in time interval between heart beats and is an index of the body’s ability to maintain control of the heart beat rate and rhythm through vagus nerve activity. In this study, the high frequency component of HRV demonstrated significant improvements after 8 weeks of acupuncture treatments. The control group did not show significant HRV improvements.
Citing Fagard et al. and Singh et al., the researchers note that hypertension patients have low HRV. As a result, HRV indices are often employed in anti-hypertension therapy research. The researchers note that HRV increased significantly after 8 weeks of acupuncture treatments “which indicates an increase in parasympathetic activity in the acupuncture group.”
The acupuncture group received 20 minute acupuncture treatment sessions at a rate of 2 times per week for 8 weeks. After an additional 4 weeks following completion of the treatment regimen, a follow-up investigation was performed to confirm the results. A protocolized acupuncture treatment received approval for the study by Deajeon University’s Dunsan Oriental Hospital institutional review board. Randomization and blinding was used to reduce bias.
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