Articles on Acupuncture

Acupuncture for Pain

http://nccam.nih.gov/health/acupuncture/acupuncture-for-pain.htm

Introduction

Physical pain is a common occurrence for many Americans; in fact, a national survey found that more than one-quarter of U.S. adults had recently experienced some sort of pain lasting more than a day. In addition to conventional treatments, such as over-the-counter and prescription medications, people may try acupuncture in an effort to relieve pain. This fact sheet provides basic information about pain and acupuncture, summarizes scientific research on acupuncture for specific kinds of pain, and suggests sources for additional information.

Key Points

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About Pain

Pain is a feeling triggered in the nervous system. It may be sharp or dull, off-and-on or steady, localized (such as back pain) or all over (such as muscle aches from the flu). Sometimes, pain alerts us to injuries and illnesses that need attention. Although pain usually goes away once the underlying problem is addressed, it can last for weeks, months, or even years. Chronic pain may be due to an ongoing condition (such as arthritis) or to abnormal activity in pain-sensing regions of the brain, or the cause may not be known.

To relieve their pain, many people take over-the-counter medications—either acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, including aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen). Stronger medications, including NSAIDs in higher dosages and narcotics, are available by prescription only. People may also try non-drug approaches to help relieve their pain. Examples include physical and occupational therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, self-care techniques, and CAM therapies such as spinal manipulationPractitioners perform manipulation by using their hands or a device to apply a controlled force to a joint. The amount of force applied depends on the form of manipulation used. or acupuncture.

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Use of Acupuncture for Pain

Acupuncture, among the oldest healing practices in the world, is part of traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture practitioners stimulate specific points on the body—most often by inserting thin needles through the skin. In traditional Chinese medicine theory, this regulates the flow of qi (vital energy) along pathways known as meridians.

According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey, which included a comprehensive survey of CAM use by Americans, 1.4 percent of respondents (an estimated 3.1 million Americans) said they had used acupuncture in the past year. A special analysis of acupuncture data from an earlier NHIS found that pain or musculoskeletal complaints accounted for 7 of the top 10 conditions for which people use acupuncture. Back pain was the most common, followed by joint pain, neck pain, severe headache/migraine, and recurring pain.

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A doctor performing acupuncture. © Bob Stockfield

What the Science Says About Acupuncture for Pain

Acupuncture has been studied for a wide range of pain conditions, such as postoperative dental pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, headache, low-back pain, menstrual cramps, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, and tennis elbow.

Overall, it can be very difficult to compare acupuncture research results from study to study and to draw conclusions from the cumulative body of evidence. This is because studies may use different acupuncture techniques (e.g., electrical vs. manual), controls (comparison groups), and outcome measures.

One particularly complex factor in acupuncture research is choosing the controls for a clinical trial. The choice depends in part on whether the researchers want to study a particular aspect of acupuncture (e.g., effects on the brain) or to determine whether acupuncture is useful compared with other forms of care. Examples of control groups include study participants who receive no acupuncture, simulated acupuncture (procedures that mimic acupuncture, sometimes also referred to as “placebo” or “sham”), or other treatments (in addition to or in place of acupuncture or simulated acupuncture).

An emerging theme in acupuncture research is the role of the placebo. For example, a 2009 systematic review of research on the pain-relieving effects of acupuncture compared with placebo (simulated) or no acupuncture was inconclusive. The reviewers found a small difference between acupuncture and placebo and a moderate difference between placebo and no acupuncture; the effect of placebo acupuncture varied considerably, and the effect of acupuncture appeared unrelated to the specific kind of placebo procedure used. All of the study participants received standard care, typically consisting of analgesic drugs and physical therapy.

The following sections summarize research on acupuncture for a variety of pain conditions, including those reported by NHIS respondents who had used acupuncture. In general, acupuncture appears to be a promising alternative for some of these pain conditions; however, further research is needed.

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About Scientific Evidence on CAM Therapies

Scientific evidence on CAM therapies includes results from laboratory research as well as clinical trials (studies in people). It encompasses both “positive” findings (evidence that a therapy may work) and “negative” findings (evidence that it probably does not work or that it may be unsafe). Scientific journals publish study results, as well as review articles that evaluate the evidence as it accumulates; fact sheets from NCCAM—like this one—base information about CAM research primarily on the most rigorous review articles, known as systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome—Although a 1997 NIH consensus statement on acupuncture concluded that acupuncture was promising for carpal tunnel syndrome, additional research confirming acupuncture’s efficacy for this condition is scant.
  • Fibromyalgia—Evidence on acupuncture for fibromyalgia is mixed. Some reviews of the scientific literature have found the evidence promising. However, another review that focused on the few rigorous randomized controlled trials on acupuncture as an adjunct therapy for fibromyalgia did not find a benefit. Additionally, a 2003 assessment by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality concluded that the evidence was insufficient and the beneficial effects of acupuncture for fibromyalgia could not be determined.
  • Headache/migraine—Study results on acupuncture for headache are conflicting. Some literature reviews found evidence to support the use of acupuncture for headache, but others noted that most of the studies were of poor quality. A 2008 review of randomized trials on acupuncture highlighted a few well-designed trials whose findings indicate that acupuncture reduces migraine symptoms and is as effective as headache medications. In addition, a 2009 review found that acupuncture may help relieve tension headaches. However, two large trials that looked at acupuncture for migraines found no difference between actual and simulated acupuncture, both of which were equal to conventional care or superior to no treatment.
  • Low-back pain—According to clinical practice guidelines issued by the American Pain Society and the American College of Physicians in 2007, acupuncture is one of several CAM therapies physicians should consider when patients with chronic low-back pain do not respond to conventional treatment. In early, small studies, combining actual acupuncture with conventional treatment was more effective than conventional treatment alone for relieving chronic low-back pain; but actual acupuncture was not more effective than simulated acupuncture or conventional treatment. However, a large, rigorously designed clinical trial reported in May 2009 found that actual acupuncture and simulated acupuncture were equally effective—and both were more effective than conventional treatment—for relieving chronic low-back pain. There is insufficient evidence to draw definite conclusions about the effectiveness of acupuncture for acute low-back pain.
  • Menstrual cramps—Two literature reviews have suggested that acupuncture may help with pain from menstrual cramps, but the research is limited.
  • Myofascial pain—The evidence for acupuncture and myofascial pain (in which pain occurs in sensitive areas, known as trigger points, in the muscles) is mixed. Some literature reviews have found the evidence promising, but another review indicated that “needling therapies” for myofascial trigger point pain were not more effective than placebo.
  • Neck pain—Studies of acupuncture for chronic neck pain have found that acupuncture provided better pain relief than some simulated treatments. However, the studies varied in terms of design and most had small sample sizes.
  • Osteoarthritis/knee pain—Acupuncture appears to be effective for osteoarthritis, particularly in the area of knee pain. Recent literature reviews have found that acupuncture provides pain relief and improves function for people with osteoarthritis of the knee. However, authors of a 2007 systematic literature review suggested that although some large, high-quality trials have shown that acupuncture may be effective for osteoarthritis of the knee, differences in the design, size, and protocol of the studies make it hard to draw any definite conclusions from the body of research. These authors concluded that it is too soon to recommend acupuncture as a routine part of care for patients with osteoarthritis.
  • Postoperative dental pain—Although recent data on acupuncture for postoperative dental pain are scant, literature reviews based on earlier evidence have identified acupuncture as a promising treatment for dental pain—especially pain following tooth extraction. For example, a 1999 study of 39 dental surgery patients found that acupuncture was superior to placebo (simulated acupuncture) in preventing postoperative pain. However, a 2005 study of 200 dental surgery patients found no significant analgesic effect for acupuncture compared to simulated acupuncture, although patients who believed they received acupuncture reported significantly less pain than those who believed they received a placebo.
  • Tennis elbow—Study results on the use of acupuncture for tennis elbow (lateral epicondyle) pain are mixed. An early review of clinical trials reported that data on acupuncture for lateral epicondyle pain were insufficient and of poor quality; however, recent reviews have found the evidence promising, noting strong evidence that acupuncture provides short-term pain relief for lateral epicondyle pain.

Acupuncture has also been studied for a variety of other pain conditions, including arm and shoulder pain, pregnancy-related pelvic and back pain, and temporomandibular joint (jaw) dysfunction. Although some studies have produced some positive results, more evidence is needed to determine the efficacy of acupuncture for any of these conditions.

There is evidence that people’s attitudes about acupuncture can affect outcomes. In a 2007 study, researchers analyzed data from four clinical trials of acupuncture for various types of chronic pain. Participants had been asked whether they expected acupuncture to help their pain. In all four trials, those with positive expectations reported significantly greater pain relief.

In addition to studying acupuncture’s efficacy, researchers are looking at potential biomechanisms—that is, how acupuncture might work to relieve pain. There are several theories about these biomechanisms (e.g., acupuncture activates opioid systems in the brain that respond to pain); additional research is still needed to test the theories. Researchers are using neuroimaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to look at the effects of acupuncture on various regions of the brain. In 2005, NCCAM sponsored the “Neurobiological Correlates of Acupuncture” conference to discuss research challenges and directions in acupuncture neuroimaging research.

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Side Effects and Risks

Acupuncture is generally considered safe when performed by an experienced practitioner using sterile needles. Relatively few complications from acupuncture have been reported. Serious adverse events related to acupuncture are rare, but include infections and punctured organs. Additionally, there are fewer adverse effects associated with acupuncture than with many standard drug treatments (such as anti-inflammatory medication and steroid injections) used to manage painful musculoskeletal conditions like fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, and tennis elbow.

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NCCAM-Funded Research

NCCAM funds clinical trials to evaluate acupuncture’s efficacy in alleviating various kinds of pain, as well as research aimed at understanding the body’s response to acupuncture and how acupuncture might work. The following are examples of recent projects:

  • Several studies of acupuncture for low-back pain (including integration with conventional medical care) and osteoarthritis of the knee (including cost-effectiveness and long-term results)
  • Studies of acupuncture for pain after oral surgery, and for pain associated with chronic headaches, fibromyalgia, repetitive strain injury/carpal tunnel syndrome, and temporomandibular joint disorder
  • Women’s health studies, including acupuncture for pelvic pain, menstrual pain (vitamin K injections at acupuncture points), and pain associated with advanced ovarian cancer
  • Several studies using fMRI technology to study brain activity during acupuncture, including in people with pain conditions such as fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis.

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Selected References

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Fibromyalgia

Headache/Migraine

Low-Back Pain

Menstrual Cramps

Myofascial Pain

Neck Pain

  • Trinh KV, Graham N, Gross AR, et al. Cervical Overview Group. Acupuncture for neck disorders. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2006;3:CD004870.

Osteoarthritis/Knee Pain

Postoperative Dental Pain

Tennis Elbow

Other Pain Conditions

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        For More Information

NCCAM Clearinghouse

The NCCAM Clearinghouse provides information on NCCAM and complementary health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.

Toll-free in the U.S.:
1-888-644-6226
TTY (for deaf and hard-of-hearing callers):
1-866-464-3615
Web site:

PubMed®

A service of the National Library of Medicine (NLM), PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals.

NIH Clinical Research Trials and You

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has created a Web site, NIH Clinical Research Trials and You, to help people learn about clinical trials, why they matter, and how to participate. The site includes questions and answers about clinical trials, guidance on how to find clinical trials through ClinicalTrials.gov and other resources, and stories about the personal experiences of clinical trial participants. Clinical trials are necessary to find better ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases.

Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools Expenditures & Results (RePORTER)

RePORTER is a database of information on federally funded scientific and medical research projects being conducted at research institutions.

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Acknowledgments

NCCAM thanks the following people for their technical expertise and review of this publication: Ted Kaptchuk, O.M.D., Harvard Medical School; Lixing Lao, Ph.D., University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine; Vitaly Napadow, Ph.D., Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital; and Partap Khalsa, D.C., Ph.D., and Richard Nahin, Ph.D., M.P.H., NCCAM.

This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.

NCCAM has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your primary health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCAM.

NCCAM Pub No.:

D435
Date Created:
May 2009
Last Updated:
August 2010

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Celine Dion pregnant with twins

By Alan Duke, CNN

May 30, 2010 8:41 p.m. EDT

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Singer Celine Dion, 42, and husband-manager Rene Angelil, 68, already have a 9-year-old son, Rene-Charles.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Celine Dion learns twins’ gender in June
  • Pregnancy is result of sixth in-vitro fertilization attempt
  • Acupuncture was used to bolster pregnancy chances

 (CNN) — Singer Celine Dion is 14 weeks pregnant with twins after years of trying to expand her family, her representative said Sunday.

Dion, 42, and her husband-manager Rene Angelil, 68, will find out next month the gender of their twins, representative Kim Jakwerth said.

The pregnancy was the result of her sixth in-vitro fertilization attempt, Jakwerth said. Dion turned to acupuncture therapy to improve her chances of getting pregnant, she said.

Angelil is the father, she said.

The couple already has a 9-year-old son, Rene-Charles.

The five-time Grammy winner has sold 200 million albums around the world, according to her website. A new Harris Poll released in May named Dion, a Canadian, as America’s favorite singer.

Dion, who completed a world tour last year, will return to Las Vegas, Nevada, next March to begin a three-year residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace.

CNN’s Doug Hyde contributed to this report.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/SHOWBIZ/Music/05/30/celine.dion.pregnant/index.html

 

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Breaking Acupuncture NewsAcupuncture Improves Memory and Learning Capacity

By: Diane Joswick, L.Ac., MSOMAcupuncture can significantly improve learning and memory capacity that has been impaired by hyperglycemia and cerebral ischemia, according to a new study.  

The study that was published in the October 2008 issue of the journal, Neuroscience Letters, reported on whether electroacupuncture (acupuncture needles stimulated with a mild electrical current) could improve learning and memory which was typically impaired in diabetic rats with cerebral ischemia.

The effects of the acupuncture treatments were measured with a passive avoidance test, an active avoidance test, the Morris water maze and electrophysiology. Significant improvements were seen with all the tests.

The researchers remarked that previous investigations have demonstrated that electroacupuncture can improve primary and secondary symptoms such as peripheral neuropathy and diabetic encephalopathy in diabetic rats.  They believe that the positive results of this study warrant further investigation.

Source: Neuroscience Letters Volume 443, Issue 3, 10 October 2008, Pages 193-198

doi:10.1016/j.physletb.2003.10.071

https://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+News/Acupuncture+Improves+Memory+and+Learning+Capacity

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HEALTH JOURNAL

MARCH 22, 2010

Decoding an Ancient Therapy 

High-Tech Tools Show How Acupuncture Works in Treating Arthritis, Back Pain, Other Ills

By MELINDA BECK

Acupuncture has long baffled medical experts and no wonder: It holds that an invisible life force called qi (pronounced chee) travels up and down the body in 14 meridians. Illness and pain are due to blockages and imbalances in qi. Inserting thin needles into the body at precise points can unblock the meridians, practitioners believe, and treat everything from arthritis and asthma to anxiety, acne and infertility.

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WSJ’s health columnist Melinda Beck tests out acupuncture as an alternative means to reduce her neck and back pain.

Does It Work?

While scientists say further research is essential, some studies have provided evidence of acupuncture’s effects.

Arthritis of the Knee: Acupuncture significantly reduced pain and restored function, according to a 2004 government study.

Headaches: Two 2009 reviews found that acupuncture cut both tension and migraine headaches.

Lower Back Pain: Acupuncture eased it in a big study last year, but so did a sham treatment where needles didn’t penetrate the skin.

Cancer: Has proven effective in reducing nausea and fatigue caused by chemotherapy.

Infertility: Improves the odds of pregnancy for women undergoing in-vitro fertilization, according to a 2008 review of seven clinical trials.

Addiction: Often used to help quit smoking, drinking, drug use and overeating, but there is no conclusive evidence that it works.

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After decades of cynicism, Western medical experts are using high-tech tools to unravel the ancient mysteries of how acupuncture works. WSJ’s Health columnist Melinda Beck joins Simon Constable on the News Hub to discuss.

As fanciful as that seems, acupuncture does have real effects on the human body, which scientists are documenting using high-tech tools. Neuroimaging studies show that it seems to calm areas of the brain that register pain and activate those involved in rest and recuperation. Doppler ultrasound shows that acupuncture increases blood flow in treated areas. Thermal imaging shows that it can make inflammation subside.

Scientists are also finding parallels between the ancient concepts and modern anatomy. Many of the 365 acupuncture points correspond to nerve bundles or muscle trigger points. Several meridians track major arteries and nerves. “If people have a heart attack, the pain will radiate up across the chest and down the left arm. That’s where the heart meridian goes,” says Peter Dorsher, a specialist in pain management and rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla. “Gallbladder pain will radiate to the right upper shoulder, just where the gallbladder meridian goes.”

Many medical experts remain deeply skeptical about acupuncture, of course, and studies of its effectiveness have been mixed. “Something measurable is happening when you stick a needle into a patient—that doesn’t impress me at all,” says Edzard Ernst, a professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter in England and co-author of the book, “Trick or Treatment.” Acupuncture “clearly has a very strong placebo effect. Whether it does anything else, the jury is still out.”

Even so, the use of acupuncture continues to spread—often alongside conventional medicine. U.S. Navy, Air Force and Army doctors are using acupuncture to treat musculoskeletal problems, pain and stress in stateside hospitals and combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Delegations from Acupuncturists Without Borders are holding communal ear-needling sessions to reduce stress among earthquake victims in Haiti. Major medical centers—from M.D. Anderson in Houston to Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York—use acupuncture to counteract the side effects of chemotherapy.

In a 2007 survey, 3.2 million Americans had undergone acupuncture in the past year—up from 2.1 million in 2001, according to the government’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The most common uses are for chronic pain conditions like arthritis, lower back pain and headaches, as well as fatigue, anxiety and digestive problems, often when conventional medicine fails. At about $50 per session, it’s relatively inexpensive and covered by some insurers. It is also generally safe.  pastedGraphic_5.pdf

Using Acupuncture to Treat Stress

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“It’s not like there’s a Merck Manual for acupuncture,” says Joseph M. Helms, who has trained some 4,000 physicians in acupuncture at his institute in Berkeley, Calif. “Every case is evaluated on an individual basis, based on the presentation of the patient and the knowledge of the acupuncturist.”

Dr. Helms notes that Western doctors also examine a patient’s tongue for signs of illness. As for qi, he says, while the word doesn’t exist in Western medicine, there are similar concepts. “We’ll say, ‘A 27-year-old female appears moribund; she doesn’t respond to stimuli. Or an 85-year old woman is exhibiting a vacant stare.’ We’re talking about the same energy and vitality, we’re just not making it a unique category that we quantify.”

Studies in the early 1980s found that acupuncture works in part by stimulating the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, much like vigorous exercise does. Now, a growing body of research suggests that it may have several mechanisms of action. Those include stimulating blood flow and tissue repair at the needle sites and sending nerve signals to the brain that regulate the perception of pain and reboot the autonomic nervous system, which governs unconscious functions such as heart beat, respiration and digestion, according to Alejandro Elorriaga, director of the medical acupuncture program at McMaster University in Ontario, which teaches a contemporary version to physicians.

pastedGraphic_7.pdfVitaly Napadow

A specialized MRI scan shows the effects of acupuncture. The top two images show the brain of a healthy subject. In the middle two images, a patient with carpal tunnel syndrome registers pain (indicated by red and yellow). The bottom images show the calming effect (indicated by blue) in the brain after acupuncture.

“You can think Western, you can think Eastern. As long as your needle goes to the nerve, you will get some effect,” Dr. Elorriaga says.

What’s more, an odd phenomenon occurs when acupuncture needles are inserted into the body and rotated: Connective tissue wraps around them like spaghetti around a fork, according to ultrasound studies at the University of Vermont. Helene Langevin, research associate professor of neurology, says this action stretches cells in the connective tissue much like massage and yoga do, and may act like acupuncture meridians to send signals throughout the body. “That’s what we’re hoping to study next,” she says.

Related

Health Mailbox: Confronting People With Anger Issues

Acupuncture Benefit Seen in Pregnancy

Aches & Claims: Using Acupuncture to Ease Chronic Pain

Journal Community

discuss

My former spouse had shingles. Doctors told her that the terrible pain would probably last 2 or 3 years. She got acupuncture treatments, plus some Chinese herbs, and the pain was totally gone with 6 weeks.

—Alan Agardi

Meanwhile, neuroimaging studies at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have shown that acupuncture affects a network of systems in the brain, including decreasing activity in the limbic system, the emotional part of the brain, and activating it in the parts of the brain that typically light up when the brain is at rest.

Other studies at the Martinos Center have shown that patients with carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful compression of nerves in the wrist, have heightened activity in parts of the brain that regulate sensation and fear, but after acupuncture, their brain patterns more closely resemble those of healthy subjects. Brain scans of patients with fibromyalgia show that both acupuncture and sham acupuncture (using real needles on random points in the body) cause the release of endorphins. But real acupuncture also increased the number of receptors for pain-reducing neurotransmitters, bringing patients even more relief.

The fact that many patients get some relief and register some brain changes from fake acupuncture has caused controversy in designing clinical trials. Some critics say that proves that what patients think of as benefit from acupuncture is mainly the placebo effect. Acupuncture proponents counter that placebos that too closely mimic the treatment experience may have a real benefit.

“I don’t see any disconnect between how acupuncture works and how a placebo works,” says radiologist Vitaly Napadow at the Martinos center. “The body knows how to heal itself. That’s what a placebo does, too.”

Write to Melinda Beck at HealthJournal@wsj.com

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704841304575137872667749264.html?

 

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Modern Research & Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been employed as a health care modality for over 3,000 years. Modern science has begun to understand the secrets of this ancient medicine with the support of new studies conducted by leading scientists, hospitals, and medical research facilities from all over the world. Today, acupuncture is receiving wide acceptance as a respected, valid and effective form of health care.

According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 51% of medical doctors understand the efficacy and value of acupuncture, and medical doctors refer patients to acupuncturists more than any other alternative care provider.1

In Canada, a 2008 study conducted by the Institute for Work & Health concluded that low back pain, the most common musculoskeletal problem, can be relieved by acupuncture massage, called Tui Na, more effectively than any other treatment.2

A German study published in Archives of Internal Medicine in 2007 covered the largest and most rigorous trial ever undertaken to investigate the analgesic effects of acupuncture versus traditional medical approaches to relieve lower back pain. This study involved 1,802 patients and 13,475 treatments and concluded that acupuncture “constituted a strong treatment alternative to multimodal conventional therapy, giving physicians a promising and effective treatment option for chronic lower back pain.” 3

In addition to its effectiveness in pain control, acupuncture has a proven track record of treating a variety of endocrine, circulatory and systemic conditions.

The British Medical Journal in 2008 reported that acupuncture can increase the success rate of in-vitro fertilization and increase the number of viable pregnancies. The additional benefits were listed as reduction in nausea and muscle pain associated with both IVF and pregnancy in general without the use of drugs that might harm the growing fetus.5

In Sweden, a 2008 study involving 215 cancer patients proved that acupuncture can eliminate the need for additional drugs and reduce nausea suffered during radiation treatments.4

A 2007 study from the University of Heidelberg in Germany concluded that acupuncture treatments can not only relieve the pain associated with bronchial asthma but also help to control outbreaks of allergic asthma as well. It became clearly evident that “acupuncture performed in accordance with the principles of traditional Chinese medicine showed significant immune-modulating effects.” 6

“There is sufficient evidence of acupuncture’s value to expand its use into conventional medicine.”
National Institute of Health, 1997 Consensus on Acupuncture

Current theories on the mechanism of acupuncture:

  1. Neurotransmitter Theory: Acupuncture affects higher brain areas, stimulating the secretion of beta-endorphins and enkephalins in the brain and spinal cord. The release of neurotransmitters influences the immune system and the antinociceptive system.7,8,9
  2. Autonomic Nervous System Theory: Acupuncture stimulates the release of norepinephrine, acetylcholine and several types of opioids, affecting changes in their turnover rate, normalizing the autonomic nervous system, and reducing pain.10,11
  3. Vascular-interstitial Theory: Acupuncture effects the electrical system of the body by creating or enhancing closed-circuit transport in tissues. This facilitates healing by allowing the transfer of material and electrical energy between normal and injured tissues.9
  4. Blood Chemistry Theory: Acupuncture affects the blood concentrations of triglycerides, cholesterol, and phospholipids, suggesting that acupuncture can both raise and diminish peripheral blood components, thereby regulating the body toward homeostasis.9
  5. Gate Control Theory: Acupuncture activates non-nociceptive receptors that inhibit the transmission of nociceptive signals in the dorsal horn, “gating out” painful stimuli.12

This ancient health care system is proving itself as an effective modality for a wide variety of problems. So much so that the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) awarded 8 grants that directly relate to acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and traditional Chinese medical research, totaling more than $9.5 million dollars.

Resources:

  1. “A review of the incorporation of complementary and alternative medicine by mainstream physicians”, Astin, JA., et. al., Arch Intern Med., 1998; (158).
  2. The Institute for Work & Health, “Massage for Lower Back Pain”, Spine, 2009, July 15: 34 (16).
  3. “German Acupuncture Trials (GERAC) for Chronic Lower Back Pain”, Archives of Internal Medicine, 2007; 167(17).
  4. Department of Medicine and Health Sciences, “Acupuncture Just as Effective Without Needle Puncture”, Science Daily, December 1, 2008, study conducted by the at Linkoping University and the Vardal Institute in Sweden.
  5. “Effects of Acupuncture of Pregnancy and Live Births Among Women Undergoing In Vitro Fertilization: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”, British Medical Journal, 2008: 336: 545, published February 7, 2008.
  6. “Immunomodulatory Effects of Acupuncture in the Treatment of Allergic Asthma: A Randomized Controlled Study”, The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Vol 6, Issue 6, 2007.
  7. Neuro-acupuncture, “Scientific evidence of acupuncture revealed”, Cho, ZH., et al., 2001.
  8. Acupuncture – A scientific appraisal, Ernst, E., White, A., 1999, p. 74.
  9. Acupuncture Energetics, “A Clinical Approach for Physicians”, Helms, Dr. J., 1997, pgs 41-42, 66.
  10. Anatomy of Neuro-Anatomical Acupuncture, Volume 1, Wong, Dr. J., 1999, p. 34.
  11. National Institute of Health Consensus Conference on Acupuncture, “Acupuncture Activates Endogenous Systems of Analgesia.”, Han, J.S., 1997 (Bethesda, MD).
  12. Neuro-acupuncture, “Scientific Evidence of Acupuncture Revealed”, Cho, ZH., et al., p.116.

 

 

 

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