Acupuncture relieves pelvic girdle pain in pregnant women

May 12, 2007  
Filed under Acupuncture, Pain

AHNAcupuncture is effective at relieving back and pelvic muscle pain during pregnancy, a common complaint among pregnant women as they enter into the final trimesters. A study has found that one in three pregnant women suffer severe back and pelvic pain as the pregnancy progresses.
This is because the center of gravity of a pregnant woman is off and she has to arch her back to balance her bulging tummy, leading to an extra strain on back and pelvic muscles.

Experts believe that stretching exercises, coupled with special pillows and acupuncture could help relieve back and pelvic pain that often occur during pregnancy.

The study tracked almost 1,500 pregnant women from Sweden, Iran, Brazil, Thailand and Australia and found that those who participated in the suggested exercises involving acupuncture reported a reduction in pain levels.

The review appears in the current issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates research in all aspects of health care.

Authors also found that expectant mothers benefited by the use of an Ozzlo pillow – a curved pillow designed to support the pregnant abdomen when lying down and that 60 percent of women trying acupuncture reported a substantial pain relief.

Full story here.

World’s first online database of latest integrative cancer research is now live

May 3, 2007  
Filed under TCM use & research

InspireHealth press release – Vancouver-based InspireHealth (formerly the Centre for Integrated Healing) today announced that the world’s first central database of integrative cancer research from around the globe is now available online – and free of charge – for cancer patients, the medical community and the general public.

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, BC/Yukon Chapter has awarded InspireHealth a grant of $142,382 to fund its new “Research Information System” for three years. The System searches medical databases world-wide for the latest research on cancer care treatments that can be added to conventional treatments on an integrated basis (such as nutrition, exercise, supplements, meditation, yoga, emotional and spiritual support etc…) and then catalogues the articles in a central database. As of today, all of the articles are available for viewing through InspireHealth’s Web site (

“There is a growing body of research that clearly demonstrates the effectiveness and growing acceptance of integrated cancer care. However, the challenge is often in finding that information,” said Dr. Hal Gunn, co-founder and CEO of InspireHealth. “Now we’re pleased to offer what we believe to be the world’s most comprehensive central resource for cancer patients and the medical community alike to find the latest integrated cancer care information.

The growing collection currently contains more than 750 abstracts and will be updated regularly. Every article in the database has been evaluated by InspireHealth physicians before being catalogued by Andrea Freeman, InspireHealth’s Clinical Librarian. Ms. Freeman has a Master’s degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of British Columbia, and has worked in a variety of medical library settings, before helping to create this online research catalogue.

“By sharing this growing body of evidence, we hope it will help inspire the health care system and patients alike to incorporate taking care of one’s mind, body, spirit and immune system along with conventional cancer treatments,” Dr. Gunn added. “We extend our warmest gratitude to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation for their generous support.

We are also grateful to the BC Foundation for Prostate Disease, which provided a grant of $13,000 to fund the start-up costs of the System.”

Establishing this research database is part of an expansion of patient care planned by InspireHealth, which has been known up to now as the Centre of Integrated Healing founded in 1997 in Vancouver by Dr. Gunn and Dr. Roger Rogers. In 2001, Dr. Rogers – now retired – received the Order of BC for his pioneering work in integrated cancer care.

Dr. Gunn says changing the Centre’s name to InspireHealth will strengthen the organization’s position as a Canadian pioneer in integrated cancer care and the promotion of health. “There is little doubt that we are fast approaching a situation in which the current healthcare model will become economically unsustainable,” Dr. Gunn added. “We need to broaden our emphasis from the current sole focus of treating illness to one which engages people in their own care with a focus on illness prevention through an integrated healthcare approach. We help our patients employ this ‘whole-person’ approach.”

“At InspireHealth, we encourage cancer patients to take a hands-on approach to improving their own health and quality of life. About 85 per cent of our patients come to us by referral and learn a variety of approaches to ‘whole-person’ health and healing that they can use in addition to conventional cancer treatment. Making the most of these new approaches often results in patients living better – and sometimes living longer.”

In addition to the online database, InspireHealth also publishes Research Updates, a monthly publication of the most recent integrated cancer care studies. Anyone interested in receiving Research Updates by E-mail or regular mail is encouraged to contact InspireHealth in Vancouver at (604) 734-7125.

InspireHealth is the only partially government funded integrated cancer care centre in Canada and employs provincially funded medical doctors. It has served over 4000 patients to date and aims to increase that number to 2,000 annually patients by 2012. InspireHealth also has working partnerships with the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, BC/Yukon Chapter, the BC Cancer Agency, and the BC Foundation for Prostate Research.

Acupuncture-like stimulation relieves chronic tension headache

May 2, 2007  
Filed under Acupuncture, Pain

headache, acupuncture

CM NEWS – A group of scientists at the University of Aarhus of Denmark recently published a report of a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial on the effect of acupuncture-like electrical stimulation on chronic tension-type headache. They have demonstrated that such practice might provide a safe and potentially analgesic-sparing therapy to tension headache.

What is tension-type headache? A tension headache is the most common headache, and yet it’s not well understood. A tension headache generally produces a diffuse, usually mild to moderate pain over your head. Many people liken the feeling to having a tight band around their head.

A tension headache may also cause pain in the back of your neck at the base of your skull. A tension headache can last from 30 minutes to an entire week. You may experience these headaches occasionally, or nearly all the time. If your headaches occur 15 or more days a month for several months, they’re considered chronic. Unfortunately, chronic tension headaches sometimes persist for years.

A tension headache may cause you to experience a dull, achy pain or sensation of tightness in your forehead or at the sides and back of your head. In its most extensive form, the pain feels like a hooded cape that drapes down over the shoulders. The headache is usually described as mild to moderately intense. The severity of the pain varies from one person to another, and from one headache to another in the same person. Many people report that the pain starts first thing in the morning or late in the day when work stress or conflict at home is anticipated.

In the study, 36 patients (18 men, 18 women) with chronic tension-type headache in accordance with the criteria of International headache Society were investigated. The patients were randomly assigned into 2 groups: a treatment group and a placebo group. Pain duration, pain intensity on a 0 to 10 cm visual analog scale, number of headache attacks, and use of medication were recorded in a diary for 2 weeks before treatment (baseline), early stage of treatment (Treat-1; 2 wk), late stage of treatment (Treat-2; 4 wk), and after the end of treatment (Post-1, Post-2, Post-3 corresponding to 2, 4, and 6-wk follow-up).

The patients also provided an overall evaluation of the treatment effect at each stage. Patients were taught how to use either an acupuncture-like electrical stimulator or a sham stimulator (identical but incapable of delivering an electric current) and then instructed to use the device at home.

Six acupoints, bilateral EX-HN5, GB 20, LI 4, were selected to be stimulated 3 minutes for each point, twice a day.

The results showed that the pain duration was shortened at Treat-1 and pain intensity was decreased at Treat-1 and Treat-2 compared with baseline. The overall evaluation of the 2 treatments indicated improvements in both the treatment and the placebo groups, but with no significant difference between the groups (P>0.061).

Despite the apparent improvement in both the treatment and placebo groups, a decrease in analgesic use was only observed in the treatment group. There was also a significant positive correlation between the reported intensity of the stimulus-evoked sensation and the evaluation of the effect of either active or placebo treatments (P=0.039).

In conclusion, the researchers said that the use of acupuncture-like electrical stimulation was not associated with significant adverse effects. These results indicate that acupuncture-like electrical stimulation is a safe and potentially analgesic-sparing therapy that may be considered as an adjunctive treatment for patients with chronic tension-type headache although the clinical effect on pain seems to be marginal in the present set-up.

[Clin J Pain. 2007 May;23(4):316-322]

Combining TCM with antipsychotics beneficial for schizophrenia

May 1, 2007  
Filed under Depression, mental health

RCP – Combining traditional Chinese herbal medicine with Western antipsychotic medication is beneficial in the treatment of schizophrenia, a systematic review of randomised trials has found.

Chinese herbal medicine has been used to treat millions of people with schizophrenia for over 2000 years. Although antipsychotic drugs are the mainstay of treatment both in China and in the West, they have serious side effects, and about one fifth of people do not respond adequately to treatment.

The 7 studies reviewed were identified from the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group’s register of trials, as well as a range of Chinese databases. Most studies evaluated Chinese herbal medicine in combination with Western antipsychotic drugs.

The results, published in the May issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry, tended to favour combination treatment compared with antipsychotic treatment alone.

The authors of the study comment that the results are broadly encouraging. They suggest that combination treatment might be beneficial in terms of certain measures of improvement in schizophrenia, although results are based on only 2 small studies of a total of 103 people.

Medium-term data on the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, such as withdrawal, were more robust, with 3 studies of a total of 741 people favouring the herbal plus antipsychotic combination group.

The researchers conclude that there is some evidence that Chinese herbal medicines, combined with antipsychotics and given in a way that is not in keeping with their normal use within traditional Chinese medicine, may be beneficial for people with schizophrenia across a range of outcomes.

If these medicines are used within their usual context, which differentiates cases of schizophrenia into syndromes, the positive effects could be greater, they say. Even the gains seen in this review would still be important for the millions for whom these treatments are used.

Both West and East need well-reported randomised trials that are adequately powered, blinded and of sufficient length for researchers to detect meaningful treatment effects.

[Rathbone J, Zhang L, Zhang M, Xia J, Liu X, Yang Y and Adams CE (2007) Chinese herbal medicine for schizophrenia: Cochrane systematic review of randomised trials. British Journal of Psychiatry, 190, 379-384.]

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