Acupuncture offers long lasting relief to migraines

September 18, 2007  
Filed under Acupuncture

CM NEWS – Acupuncture has been proved to provide effective and persistent relief of migraine headaches, according to a new study in Italy.

To check the effectiveness of a true acupuncture treatment according to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in migraine without aura, researchers of the Department of Medico-Surgical Specialities of University of Padua in Italy compared true acunpuncture to a standard mock acupuncture protocol, an accurate mock acupuncture healing ritual, and untreated controls. Read more

Placebo effect may be at play in acupuncture studies: analysis

June 28, 2007  
Filed under Acupuncture

Reuters Health – Acupuncture can bring some relief to people with knee arthritis, but the benefits may be at least partly from a placebo effect, a new research review suggests.

In an analysis of 9 clinical trials from the past 15 years, researchers found that acupuncture generally seemed to improve knee arthritis sufferers’ pain and stiffness in the short term. The patients had osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease associated with age, as opposed to arthritis associated with an autoimmune disorder.

However, a closer look showed that the benefits were limited to trials that compared acupuncture with doing nothing or with “usual care,” such as anti-inflammatory medication.

In trials that compared acupuncture with “sham” acupuncture, on the other hand, there was no clear evidence that the real therapy was more effective.

Sham acupuncture is accomplished by using non-penetrating needles, or inserting needles only into the superficial layer of skin, at random sites rather than the specific points used in real acupuncture. In studies that evaluated electro-acupuncture, the sham version involved phony electrodes and “mock” electrical stimulation of acupuncture points.

The point is to keep study participants from knowing whether they were receiving the real or the placebo treatment. This helps separate the specific effects of a therapy from any placebo effects — where people feel better simply because they believe they’ve been treated.

The new findings suggest that the benefits of acupuncture for knee arthritis are at least partly due to patients’ expectations, the study authors report in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

However, that doesn’t mean acupuncture is not worthwhile, according to the researchers, led by Eric Manheimer of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Research does suggest that acupuncture has a “genuine biological effect,” and there was evidence in some studies that the real therapy resulted in somewhat better short-term effects than sham acupuncture, the researchers note.

For their study, Manheimer and his colleagues combined the results of nine clinical trials conducted in Europe, the U.S. and Thailand. The trials included a total of more than 3,500 subjects.

Each trial included a patient group that received acupuncture for knee arthritis, as well as a “control” group. In some studies, control patients were placed on a waiting list for acupuncture, while in others they received some standard therapy that acupuncture patients did not. Control patients in other studies received sham acupuncture.

In general, the Manheimer’s team found, only studies that pitted acupuncture against doing nothing, or against standard care, showed clear benefits. The results of the sham-controlled trials were too mixed to show any benefits, according to the researchers.

The investigators do not, however, dismiss the potential benefits of acupuncture for knee arthritis. Indeed, they note, a possible explanation for the mixed results is that sham acupuncture had some actual biological effects.

Given the overall safety of acupuncture, the researchers conclude, patients can still consider it as one option in a “multidisciplinary approach” to treating knee arthritis.

[Annals of Internal Medicine, June 19, 2007]

Acupuncture stimulates brain metabolism in dementia patients

June 25, 2007  
Filed under Acupuncture, Aging

acupuncture, dementiaCM NEWS – Needling specific acupoints may help patients with dementia, a recently published study shows. The acupoint combo seems to increase cerebral glucose metabolism in the brain, as indicated by cerebral functional imaging. Read more

Acupuncture helps mothers breast feed

June 11, 2007  
Filed under Acupuncture

CM NEWS – So now not only acupuncture can control pain, it can also help a mother to have a smooth breast feeding experience.

A group of Swedish scientiests set out to compare acupuncture treatment and care interventions for the relief of inflammatory symptoms of the breast during lactation, and to investigate the relationship between bacteria in the breast milk and clinical signs and symptoms in a randomised, non-blinded, controlled study.

The researchers are from Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of Helsingborg Hospital and Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Karlstad University in Swede.

205 mothers with 210 cases of inflammatory symptoms of the breast during lactation agreed to participate. The mothers were randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups, two of which included acupuncture among the care interventions and one without acupuncture.

All groups were given essential care. Protocols, which included scales for erythema, breast tension and pain, were maintained for each day of contact with the breast feeding clinic. A Severity Index (SI) for each mother and each day was created by adding together the scores on the erythema, breast tension and pain scales. The range of the SI was 0 (least severe) to 19 (most severe).

Significant differences were found in the mean SI scores on contact days 3 and 4 between the non-acupuncture group and the two acupuncture groups. Mothers with less favourable outcomes (6 contact days, n=61) were, at first contact with the midwife, more often given advice on correction of the baby’s attachment to the breast. An obstetrician was called to examine 20% of the mothers, and antibiotic treatment was prescribed for 15% of the study population. The presence of Group B streptococci in the breast milk was related to less favourable outcomes.

“If acupuncture treatment is acceptable to the mother, this, together with care interventions such as correction of breast feeding position and babies’ attachment to the breast, might be a more expedient and less invasive choice of treatment than the use of oxytocin nasal spray,” the researchers wrote.

However, no significant difference was found in numbers of mothers in the treatment groups, with the lowest possible score for severity of symptoms on contact days 3, 4 or 5. No statistically significant differences were found between the treatment groups for number of contact days needed until the mother felt well enough to discontinue contact with the breast feeding clinic or for number of mothers prescribed antibiotics.

The researchers add that midwives, nurses or medical practitioners with specialist competence in breast feeding should be the primary care providers for mothers with inflammatory symptoms of the breast during lactation. The use of antibiotics for inflammatory symptoms of the breast should be closely monitored in order to help the global community reduce resistance development among bacterial pathogens.

[Journal: Midwifery. 2007 Jun;23(2):184-95. Epub 2006 Oct 18.]

Acupuncture on hypertension ‘a clear effect': landmark study

June 7, 2007  
Filed under Acupuncture, Heart health

acupuncture, hypertension, high blood pressureHeartwire – A study billed as the first rigorous, randomized trial in the West to test acupuncture against a sham (fake) needle technique to treat hypertension suggests that, performed properly, acupuncture may produce blood-pressure changes on a par with monotherapy in mild to moderate hypertension.

“It’s certainly not like a wonder drug; it’s not a massive effect, but it’s a clear effect,” lead investigator Dr Frank A Flachskampf (Universitätsklinikum Erlangen, Germany) said.

Smaller randomized trials have been performed in China, with mixed results, while one randomized study in the West found no difference in blood-pressure lowering between traditional Chinese acupuncture, standardized acupuncture, and a sham procedure, the authors note. This earlier study did not use ambulatory blood-pressure measurements, believed to be superior to office-based measurements.

Results of their study are published online June 4, 2007 in Circulation.

For the study, 160 outpatients with uncomplicated, mild to moderate hypertension were randomized to six weeks of acupuncture performed by Chinese medicine practitioners, trained in China, or to a sham procedure. In both arms, patients underwent 22 sessions, each 30 minutes in length. By the end of the six weeks, 24-hour ambulatory systolic and diastolic blood pressures were significantly reduced from baseline in the acupuncture-treated patients (5.4 mm Hg and 3.0 mm Hg, respectively), and this change was also significantly different from values in the sham-treated patients, in whom no meaningful changes were seen.

After three and six months, however, the blood-pressure reductions disappeared, leading investigators to conclude that ongoing acupuncture treatments would be required to maintain the blood-pressure reductions.

“The main finding is that for the first time in a reasonably sized but still relatively small randomized study, this establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that acupuncture lowers blood pressure,” Flachskampf commented. “It’s a modest but undeniable effect on both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.”

The extent of the blood-pressure reductions are comparable to those seen with ACE-inhibitor monotherapy or aggressive lifestyle changes, including radical salt restrictions, he added.

A “demanding” alternative to drugs

Flachskampf had some caveats, acknowledging that the regular acupuncture sessions used in the study represent a significant time investment: each acupuncture session lasted 30 minutes—not including transportation and administrative time—and took place several times a week. The study subjects were also reasonably healthy, with no other major risk factors and with only mild to moderate hypertension.

“This is clearly something that would probably not work as well with very sick people or people with blood pressure at dangerous levels,” he said. “We cannot easily extrapolate to people, for example, with complicated hypertension who have had a myocardial infarction.”

Flachskampf believes, however, that acupuncture likely represents an attractive option in specific patients, particularly those averse to taking medical therapy who are open to so-called “alternative” medicine.

“This is probably only for people who somehow relate to this spiritually, who say I am profoundly against taking drugs and I’m very fond of Oriental wisdom or things like that,” Flachskampf told heartwire. “I don’t want to make a joke about this, but this certainly needs more compliance than taking two or three pills a day. It’s much more demanding.”

Unlike drugs, acupuncture appeared to have few or no side effects, although two people complained that the needles were painful. “Clearly, many millions of Chinese get acupuncture without any major problems so I think this is really a minor point,” Flachskampf observed.

[Circulation 2007; DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.106.661140. Flachskampf FA, Gallasch J, Gefeller O, et al. “Randomized trial of acupuncture to lower blood pressure.” ]

Massage, acupuncutre ease pain after cancer surgery

April 4, 2007  
Filed under Acupuncture, Cancer

UCSF NewsMassage and acupuncture are effective in decreasing pain and depression following surgery in cancer patients, according to a UCSF study.

The findings of the randomized controlled clinical trial are reported in the March 2007 issue of the “Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.” Read more

Acupuncture controls chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain

March 3, 2007  
Filed under Acupuncture, Men's health

CM NEWS – Researchers have shown in a recent study that acupuncture is effective in alleviating the severity of pain in patients with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome.

What is chronic prostatitis or chronic pelvic pain syndrome? CP/CPPS occurs in men and is characterized by persistent discomfort or pain in the pelvic area that lasts several months, often longer. The discomfort is usually at the base of the penis and around the anus and lower back. Sometimes it spreads into the testes. Some patients have pain with ejaculation, and others may have pain or an urgency or hesitancy when they pass urine, as well as a poor urinary stream. The cause of CP/CPPS is not known. Physicians often try various therapies, including antibiotics to treat hidden or persistent infections in the prostate gland and {alpha}-blockers to relax the muscle tissue of the prostate and the outlet of the bladder. Thus far, few research studies have tested whether either of these treatments helps relieve symptoms of CP/CPPS.

The researchers of Columbia University and Cornell Medical College say that the etiology and treatment of chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome remain poorly understood. Pain, lower urinary tract voiding symptoms and negative impact on quality of life are the most common complaints. Acupuncture, which has been widely used to treat painful and chronic conditions, may be a potential treatment to alleviate the constellation of symptoms experienced by men with chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome.

In the present study, 10 men diagnosed with category IIIA or IIIB chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome for over 6 months, refractory to at least 1 conventional therapy (antibiotics, anti-inflammatory agents, 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, alpha-1 blockers). The median age of the subjects was 36 years (range 29-63).

Standardized full body and auricular acupuncture treatment was given twice weekly for 6 weeks. The results show that subjects reported less pain after 3 and 6 weeks of treatment and remained so after an additional 6 weeks of follow-up. There weren’t any adverse events reported.

The researchers thus conclude that these preliminary findings suggest the potential therapeutic role of acupuncture in the treatment of chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome.

[Chinese Medicine 2007, 2:1 doi:10.1186/1749-8546-2-1]

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