Acupuncture Continuing Education

Itch Soothed By Acupuncture

Acupuncture alleviates itching. Researchers conducted a meta-analysis and found acupuncture effective for reducing itch intensity in itch related disorders. Acupoint stimulation relieves itching according to new research. Acupuncture successfully reduced itching in cases of dermatological disorders and systemic diseases.

The researchers note that the antipruritic effects induced by acupuncture may correlate to acupuncture’s regulatory effects on brain signaling. The research team notes that acupuncture’s ability to reduce itching correlates with its ability to downregulate putamen responses. The data compared true acupuncture with antihistamine intake and placebo acupuncture. Only true acupuncture induced putamen brain responses correlating with itch reduction. The researchers note that electroacupuncture reduces itching when applied to affected or related dermatomes. They note that this may be due to electroacupuncture’s ability to regulate kappa-opioid receptor activity.

All studies reviewed in the meta-analysis were related to clinical trials. All trials were randomized with controls. No case reports or animal studies were admitted for review. The researchers note that medical scientists “should pay more attention to evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture on itch.” They also suggest additional randomized controlled trials comparing true acupuncture with placebo acupuncture and medications to verify the results. The researchers note, “In conclusion, our systematic review suggests that acupuncture is effective for ameliorating itch intensity in itch-related diseases.” 

Related research finds that acupuncture “significantly reduced type I hypersensitivity itch in patients with AD (atopic dermatitis).” Copper handle filiform needle applied by an acupuncturist. Acupuncture outperformed drug therapy for itch reduction. The study was carefully constructed with a double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled design. Acupuncture was compared with medication therapy and placebo controls plus non-treatment controls. Acupuncture and medications were significantly effective, however, acupuncture was more effective. Acupuncture achieved superior patient outcomes significantly greater than antihistamine consumption.

About Acupuncture
Acupuncture is believed to have originated in China approximately 3,500 years ago. It is a medical procedure wherein filiform needles are inserted into specific points in the body to evoke designated healing responses.

Yu, Chi, Pei Zhang, Zheng-Tao Lv, Jing-Jing Li, Hong-Ping Li, Cai-Hua Wu, Fang Gao et al. "Efficacy of Acupuncture in Itch: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Randomized Controlled Trials." Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015 (2015).
Author Affiliations:
Department of Neurobiology, Tongji Medical School, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China.
Department of Orthopedics, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China.
Institute of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing, China.

Allergy. Volume 67, Issue 4, pages 566–573, April 2012. Acupuncture compared with oral antihistamine for type I hypersensitivity itch and skin response in adults with atopic dermatitis – a patient- and examiner-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. F. Pfab, M.-T. Kirchner, J. Huss-Marp, T. Schuster, P. C. Schalock, J. Fuqin, G. I. Athanasiadis, H. Behrendt, J. Ring, U. Darsow, V. Napadow.
Author Affiliations:
Department of Radiology (MA), Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
Helmholtz Zentrum München/TUM, ZAUM-Center for Allergy and Environment, Munich, Germany.
Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany.
Department of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
Christine-Kühne Center of Allergy Research and Education (CK-CARE), Munich, Germany.
Department of Radiology, Logan College of Chiropractic, Chesterfield, Missouri.

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