Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture News and Research

 

State, federal, and international organizations recognize and regulate acupuncture and herbs after thousands of years of widespread utilization.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient form of medicine including acupuncture, herbal medicine, tuina therapeutic massage, dietetics, movement arts including qi gong and taiji (tai chi), and more. Its roots date back to over 5,300 years ago; Otzi the mummy, discovered in the Northern Italian Alps, had numerous acupuncture point locations tattooed on his body (Dorfer et al.).

 

Needles and Herbs 

 

Modern scientific evidence confirms the therapeutic value of acupuncture and MRI studies confirm that specific acupuncture points induce hemodynamic changes in specific brain networks relating to the healing of specific medical disorders (He et al.). There are approximately 20,000 licensed acupuncturists in the USA and there are numerous state acupuncture medical boards and national organizations providing oversight of the profession. Nonetheless, the wheels of the federal government often turn slowly and the profession, technically, did not exist in the USA until recently. 

Researchers find acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine effective for the treatment of tinnitus. Results indicate that a combination of herbs and acupuncture is more effective than using only herbal medicine. The research team chose a potent herbal formula combined with a classic acupuncture point prescription with a subtle addition. Two Master Tung acupuncture points were added to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupoint prescription. The combined protocol of acupuncture and herbs achieved significant positive patient outcomes.

 

Ear Point

 

Researchers selected 100 patients with tinnitus for inclusion in a clinical trial. They were randomly distributed them into a control group and an observation group, each consisting of 50 patients. Control group patients were administered a standardized Traditional Chinese Medicine herbal decoction. The observation group was treated with acupuncture and the identical TCM herbal formula. The results were compared after three courses of treatment: the group receiving acupuncture and herbs achieved an 88% total effective rate. The control group, receiving only herbal medicine, achieved a 68% total effective rate. The data indicates that acupuncture combined with herbal medicine, in an integrated protocol, achieves optimal clinical efficacy for patients with tinnitus and associated hearing dysfunction. 

Researchers find Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) modalities including acupuncture, tuina, and moxibustion effective for the treatment of pain associated with osteoporosis. Conclusions reached across several studies delineate specific benefits resulting from the application of acupuncture. Acupuncture outperformed estrogen replacement therapy for bone pain reduction in women with osteoporosis. Related studies confirm the benefits of TCM therapies. Moxibustion (a warming technique employing the use of burning mugwort) at four key acupoints was found successful at regulating blood plasma estradiol levels.

 

Human spine as seen through transparent human

 

Additional studies are consistent with these findings. Another recent study finds acupuncture combined with tuina (traditional Chinese medical massage) beneficial for bone metabolism. In addition, acupuncture outperformed drug therapy for the treatment of osteoporotic spinal compression fracture related pain. The aforementioned study confirms the analgesic effects for which acupuncture is renown. 

Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of depression and generalized anxiety disorder and enhances the effects Paxil.

Researchers from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine (Wang et al.) find acupuncture effective for the alleviation of both depression and anxiety for patients taking drug therapy. Two types of acupuncture demonstrated proven efficacy. Both manual acupuncture and electroacupuncture increased treatment outcomes for mild to moderate depression patients taking paroxetine (also known by the trade name Paxil). Manual acupuncture and electroacupuncture provided patients with a greater quality of life, as assessed by the World Health Organization's WHOQOL-BREF scale. The assessment technique evaluates the perceived quality of life of each patient, overall health conditions, psychological parameters, physiological changes, and environmental perceptions.

 

Abdominal needle insertion in progress

 

In a related study, Chen et al. demonstrated that patients with generalized anxiety disorder receiving standard acupuncture had an 86.2% improvement rate. After the additional of abdominal acupuncture points, the patient outcome rate increased to 89.6%. It is worth noting that abdominal acupuncture shows slightly preferable results over non-abdominal acupuncture for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. 

Acupuncture is effective for the treatment of aphasia after a stroke. Acupuncture patients regained the ability to communicate through speech and written language at a similar rate as drug therapy patients. More importantly, a combination of acupuncture with drug therapy produced optimal positive patient outcomes. Acupuncture, as a standalone therapy, produced a 46% total effective rate and donepezfil (a cognition enhancing drug) produced a 50% total effective rate. Significantly, the combination of acupuncture with donepezfil produced a 77% total effective rate. This important discovery finds the combined protocol of acupuncture and drugs an important treatment option for patients having lost the ability to communicate after a stroke.

 

Brain

 

Stroke, also referred to as cerebral infarction, is the second most common cause of death and disability in the world. Aphasia (the inability to communicate through speech or written language) is one of the effects of stroke, occurring in 20–40% of post-stroke patients. These patients experience a significant loss in quality of life due to the inability to express their thoughts or communicate. Early recovery from aphasia is crucial in restoring speech and language capabilities. 

Acupuncture outperforms drugs for the depression total cure rate with no serious adverse effects.

Researchers from Jinan University (Guangzhou, China) conclude that acupuncture is effective for the alleviation of depression. In the study, the acupuncture treatment group achieved a total efficacy rate of 88.9% and the drug control group achieved an efficacy rate of 84.8%. Patients in the control group received administration of the pharmaceutical medication fluoxetine (known by the trade name Prozac®). The researchers conclude that acupuncture slightly outperforms fluoxetine for the treatment of depression. In addition, acupuncture treatment displays certain advantages compared with anti-depressant drugs. Acupuncture achieved a higher cure rate and the drugs had a significant adverse reaction rate.

 

 LI4 (Hegu)

 

Depression is a common mental disorder wherein patients experience prolonged melancholy. In serious cases, depression might lead to suicidal thoughts and behaviors, flattening of emotions, weakening willpower and physical pathologies. Globally, depression is responsible for a serious impact on patients’ work performance and quality of lives. Hence, finding the most effective treatment has become a matter of utmost urgency to medical researchers around the world. Acupuncture has an ancient and well documented history for the treatment of mental illness. The study focuses on a scientific comparison between drug therapy and acupuncture therapy. 

A meta-analysis of eight clinical trials conducted between 2000 and 2014 demonstrates the efficacy of acupuncture for the treatment of stable angina. (1) In all eight clinical trials, patients treated with acupuncture experienced a greater rate of angina relief than those in the control group treated with conventional drug therapies (90.1% vs 75.7%). (2) Additionally, the ECG (electrocardiogram, EKG) results of seven studies demonstrate the superiority of acupuncture over conventional drug therapies for the improvement of ST segment (flat portion of the ECG wave between S and T) ischemia. (3)

 

Angina Back Shu Bladder Meridians Points 

 

Angina pectoris is a symptom of transient myocardial ischemia and hypoxia. (4) It is characterized by temporary pain and a feeling of constriction in the chest, as well as substernal pain that may radiate to the neck, jaw, shoulder, back, arm and epigastrium. (5) The most common risk factor for angina pectoris is coronary artery disease (CAD). (6) Patients with angina are at increased risk for acute myocardial infarction; the prognosis depends on the severity of the CAD and the degree to which their heart function is impaired. Though incidence of angina pectoris differs between countries, it is estimated that between 4.9 – 12.5% of men and 5 – 9.2% of women will experience it each year. (7) 

Researchers (Zheng-tao, et al.) find acupuncture effective for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and conclude that it is a potentially valid and successful substitute for the CPAP machine. The findings indicate that acupuncture is a proven treatment option for sleep apnea patients looking for a cost-effective alternative to standard treatment or for those who find sleeping with the machine cumbersome and difficult to manage.

 

Sleep Apnea

 

Later in this article, we will review the following important discoveries: Acupuncture outperformed nCPAP (Nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines for increasing blood oxygenation as measured by AHI (Apnea-Hypopnea Index) and acupuncture outperformed controls as measured by additional indices (apnea index, hypopnea index, SaO2 levels). First, let’s take a look at sleep apnea pathophysiology and how standard care is used to alleviate it.

Long needle acupuncture, electroacupuncture and Xiaoxingnao acupuncture show positive treatment outcomes for both cervical spondylosis and cervical spondylotic radiculopathy.

Two recent research studies find acupuncture a highly effective and flexible method for the treatment of cervical spondylosis and cervical spondylotic radiculopathy (neck spinal and soft tissue degeneration causing nerve impingement and subsequent pain or numbness). One study from Xindu District Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine found long needle acupuncture to be highly effective for the treatment of cervical spondylotic radiculopathy. Another from Tianjin University of TCM determined that electroacupuncture treatment in combination with Xiaoxingnao acupuncture produces significant patient outcomes.

 

Neck Pain 

 

In the first study, researchers Xie et al. (Xindu District Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine) conducted a scientific investigation of long needle acupuncture compared with conventional acupuncture for the treatment of cervical spondylotic radiculopathy. The results demonstrate that long needle acupuncture produces superior patient outcomes. Let's take a look at the advanced procedures that produced the results. Please keep in mind that the following procedures are only appropriate for licensed acupuncturists trained in these expert techniques and procedures.

Acupuncture outperforms a benzodiazepine medication for the treatment of insomnia.

Researchers find acupuncture more effective for the relief of insomnia than estazolam, a benzodiazepine pharmaceutical drug. Using Pittsburgh sleep quality index (PSQI) scores as a basis of comparison, acupuncture outperformed estazolam for the improvement of “sleep quality, efficiency disturbance and daytime dysfunction.” The researchers note that the acupuncture protocol used to achieve the treatment results included a specialized order for inserting the acupuncture needles and that the “sequence of acupuncture points” plays an important role.

 

Sleep

 

The investigation explored the efficacy of the Governor Vessel (GV) unblocking protocol developed by Prof. Gao Yu-chun. The researchers provide the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) basis for the protocol. The GV unblocking approach to care for the treatment of insomnia focuses on calming the mind by nourishing kidney water to “submerge liver yang and harmonize heart mind by stimulating the three Yuan-Primary points Shenmen (HT7), Taichong (LR3) and Taixi (KI3).” The protocol also focuses on harmonizing the spleen and stomach. According to TCM principles, ascending “turbid qi or insufficient qi and blood due to dysfunctions of the spleen and stomach may either cause or aggravate insomnia.” To address these concerns, the following acupoints were included:

Researchers conclude that acupuncture reduces pain and stiffness while restoring physical functioning for patients with knee osteoarthritis. Using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, the researchers made an important finding. Acupuncture successfully downregulated osteoarthritis related proinflammatory plasma levels of TNFα, IL-6, and apelin.

 

ST35-dubi-neixian 

 

TNFα and IL-6 (interleukin 6) are major proinflammatory cytokines involved in osteoarthritis pathophysiology and are associated with radiographic osteoarthritis and knee cartilage loss. Elevated levels are associated with knee pain (Stannus et al.). The adipokine apelin is also correlated with inflammation, pain, and osteoarthritis. 

Researchers demonstrate excellent clinical results using acupuncture for the treatment of lumbar disc herniations.

Researchers find acupuncture safe and effective for the treatment of lumbar disc herniations across multiple independent clinical trials. A meta-analysis of investigations reveals that Jiaji acupoints yield significant positive patient outcomes when combined with manual and electroacupuncture techniques. Distal and abdominal acupuncture also demonstrated significant positive patient outcomes. This research review covers rare acupuncture points demonstrating clinical efficacy and details a powerful manual acupuncture technique proven effective for relief of lumbar disc herniation symptoms. We’ll start with primary research by Song et al. and then take a close look at a meta-analysis by Wang et al., including specific approaches to clinical care proven to deliver excellent results.

 

Lumbar Discs 

 

Researchers find both electroacupuncture and manual acupuncture effective for the treatment of lumbar disc herniations. Song et al. conducted a clinical trial at the Xixiang People’s Hospital in Guangdong, China. Electroacupuncture and manual acupuncture significantly reduced patients’ pain levels. Outstanding positive patient outcomes were recorded for the electroacupuncture treatment group. Patients with lumbar disc herniations receiving electroacupuncture had a 91.8% total treatment effective rate. Improvements included pain reductions, increases in range of motion, and improved straight leg lift testing. 

Music electroacupuncture benefits the brain and demonstrates efficaciousness in the treatment of depression.

Researchers conclude that music electroacupuncture causes improved behavioral changes and benefits to neuronal structures in the hippocampus. In a laboratory experiment on depressive rats, music electroacupuncture outperforms fluoxetine (trade name Prozac) for regulating monoamine neurotransmitter levels. Based on the findings, the researchers (Cao et al.) conclude that music electroacupuncture demonstrates efficaciousness for the treatment of depression.

 

 Electroacupuncture on a woman's back

 

In a separate investigation (Tang et al.), two types of acupuncture are found to successfully regulate behavioral changes and β-amyloid protein levels in a laboratory experiment. Based on the findings, the researchers note that music electroacupuncture and standard pulsed electroacupuncture may assist in the prevention of Alzheimer Disease. In a controlled experiment, laboratory rats receiving electroacupuncture had decreased latency times, improved swimming distances, and significant reductions of β-amyloid protein levels. β-amyloid (Aβ) proteins are the main constituents of amyloid plaques occurring in Alzheimer disease patients’ brains. The researchers note that music electroacupuncture and standard electroacupuncture improved “learning and memorizing abilities.” Notably, music electroacupuncture outperformed standard electroacupuncture. 

Researchers document that acupuncture produces higher pregnancy rates than fertility medications for women with hyperprolactinemia (HPL).

Acupuncture produces a higher rate of pregnancies than fertility medications with significantly less adverse effects. In a controlled clinical trial, researchers document that acupuncture outperforms bromocriptine and bromocriptine plus clomiphene for the treatment of infertility for women with hyperprolactinemia (HPL). Acupuncture produced a 43.3% pregnancy rate whereas fertility medications produced 20% pregnancy rate.

 

Image of a pregnant woman.  

 

One important mechanism responsible for the fertility treatment success with acupuncture is hormonal regulation. Acupuncture more rapidly normalized levels of prolactin than fertility medications. In hyperprolactinemia, elevated levels of prolactin (PRL) hormone causes infertility by inhibiting gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) production. GnRH is responsible for stimulating gonadotropins (Gn), luteinising hormone (LH), and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) production. As a result, hyperprolactinemia affects the overall function of the ovaries, ovulation, and corpus luteum formation because Gn, LH, and FSH play an important biological role in reproductive health.

Olympians use cupping during training and research supports its use.

 

 cupping neck re

 

Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps has attracted a great deal of attention for his use of cupping therapy. Phelps notes that he receives cupping before swimming meets, especially for soreness. Other Olympians including Alex Naddour, Natalie Coughlin, and Pavel Sankovich published photos of their cupping marks on social media. USA gymnast Alexander Naddour notes that cupping is “the secret” that maintains his health. Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin also employs cupping as part of her physical training regimen. 

Researchers find acupuncture beneficial for diabetic glucose level regulation and for the relief of diabetic gastrointestinal disorders.

Acupuncture alleviates diabetes symptoms. Researchers in two separate studies find acupuncture effective for the relief of diabetes. In one study, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine researchers find acupuncture combined with moxibustion effective for the relief of a broad variety of diabetes related conditions.

 

Guan Yuan, CV4 Insertion 

 

In a second study, researchers conclude that acupuncture effectively reduces or eliminates diabetic gastroparesis. This condition, also referred to as delayed gastric emptying, involves pathologically slow movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine. This is caused by high glucose levels in diabetics that leads to vagus nerve damage, which leads to the inability of the nerve to properly regulate stomach muscles. Acupuncture successfully restores digestive functionality wherein gastroparesis is abated. Importantly, a six month follow-up found acupuncture significantly more effective than two different types of pharmaceutical medications for the treatment of diabetic gastroparesis.

Acupuncture relieves neck pain, numbness, and weakness caused by intervertebral disc degeneration.

Researchers demonstrate the efficacy of acupuncture point prescriptions for the treatment of pain, numbness, weakness, and electrical shooting sensations in the neck, upper back, and arms due to cervical spondylosis. This condition is caused by soft tissue and spinal degeneration in the neck, which impacts nerve conduction. The cervical spondylosis induced nerve impingement causes radiculopathy, wherein the nerves fail to function properly. This leads to pain, weakness, electric shooting sensations, or numbness. The researchers find acupuncture safe and effective for the restoration of nerve functioning and subsequent alleviation of symptoms.

 

Neck Jiaji points

 

Acupuncture alleviates radiculopathy due to cervical spondylosis. Guangzhou Haizhu District Ruibaojie Community Health Center researchers (Xiao et al.) conclude that conventional acupuncture and balance method acupuncture produce significant positive patient outcomes for the treatment of radiculopathy due to cervical spondylosis. Radiculopathy occurs in approximately 50% – 60% of cervical spondylosis cases.

Patients suffering from depression often have the added burden of coping with the adverse effects of antidepressant medications. A common antidepressant, paroxetine, may cause anxiety, sleep problems, loss of appetite, constipation, and dizziness. A recent study from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine demonstrates that acupuncture treatments alleviate the adverse effects associated with paroxetine intake and improve the overall quality of life for patients with mild to moderate depression. The researchers conclude that the integrative approach to care, combining acupuncture with paroxetine in a unified treatment protocol, significantly improves the rate of positive patient outcomes.

 

Yintang 

 

Researchers (Wang et al.) from five medical research centers in China collaborated to study the relationship between acupuncture therapy and paroxetine intake for the treatment of depression and documented significant clinical results. Seventy-two patients with mild to moderate depression were divided into three groups. Group A consisted of 23 patients. These 23 received electro-acupuncture therapy and paroxetine. Group B, which included 32 depression patients, received manual acupuncture therapy and paroxetine. The acupuncture point prescriptions used for groups A and B were selected from the same list of acupoints. In addition, paroxetine dosages were identical and acupuncture treatments were administered every other day. Paroxetine was taken orally each day after breakfast. For the third group, 17 people in group C were prescribed paroxetine and received no acupuncture therapy. 

Researchers find acupuncture and herbal medicine effective for the reduction of abdominal fluid retention due to liver cirrhosis.

Researchers document that acupuncture combined with moxibustion and herbal medicine enhance the effectiveness of drug therapy for patients with cirrhotic ascites (CA). Patient benefits include reduced fluid retention, improved liver function, and lower relapse rates. In addition, hospitalization durations are significantly reduced. Let’s take a look at the results and how they are achieved.

 

 liver cirrhotic ascites2

 

Acupuncture plus moxibustion is a potent modality of therapeutic care for the alleviation of cirrhotic ascites. Researchers tested the efficacy of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approach to care and discovered that it significantly reduced hospitalization times, lowered relapse rates, and alleviated symptoms. In a study entitled Clinical Observation of 135 Cases of Cirrhotic Ascites Treated with Acupuncture and Medicine, Dr. Du documents an 80% total treatment effective rate for patients receiving acupuncture plus moxibustion in addition to conventional medications. Patients receiving TCM herbal medicine in addition to standard care had a 77.8% total effective rate and patients receiving only standard medications had a 66.7% total effective rate. 

Acupuncture reduces the frequency and intensity of angina, facilitates decreases in medication dosage levels, and prevents resistance to drug therapy efficaciousness.

A team of eight researchers conclude that acupuncture is safe and effective for the treatment of stable angina. Wading through the sea of medical research is challenging for anyone. It is understandable that effective traditional health practices may be overlooked for the treatment of common ailments. Here, investigators took up the challenge of determining acupuncture’s outcome measures and found a significant total effective rate.

 

Heart and vasculature image 

 

Angina is chest pain that results from diminished blood flow to the heart. Stable angina is a type of chest pain or discomfort that usually occurs upon exertion or due to stress. New patients with angina are diagnosed every year. For these people, their way of life changes—often working to avoid alarming squeezing pains in the upper body with lifestyle modifications. The occurrence rate varies worldwide. In China, for example, the occurrence rate of angina has increased annually, and the age of onset has become younger, according to the authors of the meta-analysis. The prognosis varies, but risks for people diagnosed with angina pectoris include myocardial infarction or sudden death.