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Acupuncture Found Effective for Depression Treatment

Acupuncture Found Effective for Depression Treatment

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 (Prozac®). Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication. It is used for patients with depression, panic attacks, eating disorders, stress and anxiety, and other conditions including obsessive-compulsive disorders. 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.

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. 

The study involved the selection of 72 patients who received acupuncture or drug treatments at the Acupuncture and Psychology department of the First Affiliated Hospital of Jinan University. Patients were randomly assigned to a drug control group and an acupuncture treatment group. The treatment group was comprised of 17 males and 19 females, with an average age of 29 years and a depression medical history of 20 months; the control group had 20 males and 16 females, with an average age of 28 years and a depression medical history of 21 months.

The patients from both groups were comparable as there were no significant differences in terms of their gender, age and medical histories. It is important to take note that pregnant women, breast feeding mothers, and patients who recently underwent surgery were not included in the experiment. The patients fulfilling at least 4 criteria as stated below were selected for the study:

  • Prolonged melancholy (Loss of interest and happiness, Attenuated energy, Slow reactions, Low self-esteem and feeling guilty, Difficulties with imagination and critical thinking, Recurrent suicidal thoughts and behaviors, Sleeping difficulties such as insomnia, waking up too early and sleeping too much, Decreased appetite, Decreased sexual desires)

  • Socialization dysfunction

  • Symptoms listed above for at least 2 week duration

Each treatment course consisted of 10 acupuncture treatments followed by a 5 day break before the next course began. All patients received 4 treatment courses in total. Patients from the control group consumed fluoxetine hydrochloride tablets, once a day after breakfast. Every 10 days of tablet consumption consisted of one treatment course. A total of 4 courses were administered, with 5 days of break time between courses. During their courses of treatment, all patients received counseling by doctors in order to rebuild their confidence. They were not allowed to consume any other medications during the study.

After 4 courses of care, the acupuncture treatment group achieved an efficacy rate of 88.9%. A total of 21 patients were cured, 11 showed dramatic improvements, and 4 patients remained uncured. The control group achieved an efficacy rate of 84.8%. A total of 9 patients were cured, 20 showed significant improvements and 7 remained uncured. The efficacy rates show significant differences between the two treatments.

The drug treatment regimen achieved significant results but with difficulties associated with adverse effects. Compliance issues for pill consumption are compounded by withdrawal symptoms associated with non-compliance with medication schedules. The acupuncture treatments did not have any serious adverse effects. In addition, the total efficacy rate and the cure rate were higher in the acupuncture group. The results demonstrate that acupuncture is an important treatment option for patients with depression. A greater focus on the role of acupuncture for the treatment of mental illness in standard care settings has the potential to increase positive patient outcomes. Moreover, acupuncture has the potential to address physical ailments while simultaneously addressing depression. The successful clinical patient outcomes documented in the study point to the need for further investigations

Reference:
Wei Bo, Xu Yi, Clinical observations on acupuncture treatment for depression, Journal of Jinan University (Natural Science & Medicine Edition), 2013, 34(6).

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Acupuncture Found Effective For Cervical Spine Disorders

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.

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.

Cervical spondylotic radiculopathy is a common disease that usually affects patients between the ages of 25 and 65 years old. It is mainly caused by bone hyperplasia and hypertrophy of the intervertebral discs, vertebral joints and facet joints. Consequently, the corresponding spinal nerve roots and other nerve roots are compressed or damaged. The main symptoms of this condition include neck, shoulder, back, upper limb, and finger pain, numbness, radiculopathy, or limb and finger weakness (Yang et al., 2012).

Long needle acupuncture accelerates qi and blood circulation in the meridians and also facilitates communication between the yin and yang meridians or between multiple acupoints. For this reason, it is appropriate for the treatment of cervical spondylotic radiculopathy. The study found that long needle acupuncture demonstrates a higher efficacy rate than conventional acupuncture for the treatment of this condition.

A total of 126 patients with cervical spondylotic radiculopathy were selected for the study. They were divided into two groups: treatment group (64 patients), control group (62 patients). The treatment group underwent long needle acupuncture whereas the control group underwent conventional acupuncture treatment. Identical primary acupoints were selected for both therapies: neck Jiaji acupoints and traditional Hua Tuo Jiaji acupoints. These acupoints run in two parallel lines on either side of the spinal column and the Governing Vessel meridian, 0.5–1 cun lateral to the spinous process of each vertebrae. They function to stimulate the nerve segment corresponding to their specific locations.

For the long needle acupuncture treatment, a 3 inch acupuncture needle was held with both hands and inserted into each acupoint. For the neck Jiaji acupoints, the long needle was pointed downwards and inserted towards the seventh cervical vertebra. Upon insertion, either the Ping Bu Ping Xie (gently reinforcing and reducing) or the Xie (reducing) needle manipulation technique was applied. Needle techniques were selected depending upon the individual patient’s clinical symptoms. One acupuncture session was conducted daily for 20 days in total, in two cycles of 10 consecutive days, with a 1 to 2-day break between each cycle.

For conventional acupuncture, a 1.5 inch filiform needle was inserted into each acupoint, angled toward the midline. Upon insertion, either the Ping Bu Ping Xie or the Xie needle manipulation technique was applied, depending upon the individual patient’s clinical symptoms. One acupuncture session was conducted daily for 20 days in total, in two cycles of 10 consecutive days, with a 1 to 2 day break between each cycle. The patients receiving long needle acupuncture achieved a 95.3% total treatment effective rate, while those who received conventional acupuncture achieved an 80.6% rate. The results of this study indicate that long needle acupuncture is highly effective in treating cervical spondylotic radiculopathy, showing greater improvements in symptoms than conventional acupuncture.

In the second study, researchers Gong and Xue (Tianjin University of TCM) found that Xiaoxingnao acupuncture (a specialized acupuncture technique which effectively dredges meridians, improves blood circulation and refreshes the mind) combined with electroacupuncture on the cervical Jiaji acupoints is effective for the treatment of Vertebral artery cervical spondylosis. Vertebral artery cervical spondylosis arises from arterial oppression or damage from mechanical and dynamic factors. This leads to stenosis, which eventually decreases blood supply to the vertebral basilar artery. The main symptoms of vertebral artery cervical spondylosis include: neck and shoulder pain, dizziness, headache, cataplexy, optical conditions (e.g., fogged vision, dark spots, transient amaurosis, temporary vision defects, degenerated vision, ambiopia, visual hallucinations, blindness). In addition, bulbar paralysis and other neurological symptoms may be observed including slurred speech, dysphagia, pharyngeal reflex, choking due to backflow while drinking water, palatoplegia, voice hoarseness or facial paralysis.

The study involved a total of 60 patients with vertebral artery cervical spondylosis. They were divided into two equal groups of 30: the treatment group and the control group. Patients in the treatment group were treated with a combination of Xiaoxingnao acupuncture therapy with electroacupuncture. The control group patients received pharmaceutical medications. The clinical results of this study demonstrate that combining electroacupuncture and Xiaoxingnao acupuncture yields significantly better treatment outcomes than medications. Primary acupoints selected for the treatment group’s therapy were the following:

Fengchi (GB20)
Fengfu (GV16)
Tianzhu (BL10)
Wangu (SI4)
Dazhui (GV14)
Cervical Jiaji acupoints
Fengchi, Fengfu and Tianzhu acupoints were selected for their ability to reduce muscule spasms, regulate autonomic nerve functions, dilate blood vessels and improve blood supply to the brain. Wangu was selected for the treatment of headaches and neck pain. Dazhui was selected to facilitate blood flow. Finally, the cervical Jiaji acupoints were selected as local points to dredge the affected meridians (Deng et al., 2008). For the Fengchi, Fengfu, Tianzhu and Wangu acupoints, the needles were inserted 1.5 – 2 inches deep, toward the Adam’s apple. Acupoints were manipulated by rotating in small turns at a high frequency. For the Dazhui acupoint, multiple needles were inserted in various directions: upward, downward, to the left, to the right and perpendicularly (until the patient felt a sensation radiating toward the shoulder).

The cervical Jiaji acupoints were inserted perpendicularly to a depth of 1.5 – 2 inches. An electroacupuncture device was connected to the needles at the cervical Jiaji acupoints, set at 2 – 10 Hz with disperse-dense waves. Additional secondary acupoints were selected on an individual symptomatic basis as follows:

For phlegm and dampness retention:

Fenglong (ST40)
Yanglingquan (GB34)
For phlegm and blood stasis:

Hegu (LI4)
Sanyinjiao (SP6)
Geshu (BL17)
Zhongwan (CV12)
Fenglong (ST40)
Zusanli (ST36)
For accumulation of dampness and heat:

Danshu (BL19)
Yanglingquan (GB34)
Neiguan (PC6)
Shenmen (HT7)
Fenglong (ST40)
For blood deficiency:

Geshu (BL17)
Xuehai (SP10)
Zusanli (ST36)
Sanyinjiao (SP6)
Qihai (CV6)
For all secondary acupoints, the Ping Bu Ping Xie needle manipulation technique was applied. After needle insertion and manipulation, a needle retention time of 20 minutes was observed. One 20 minute acupuncture session was conducted daily for 2 consecutive weeks.

Patients taking medications received intravenous infusions including mannitol and safflower extract injections in addition to medications to promote blood circulation, nourish nerves, and energize the body. The medications were administered once daily for 2 consecutive weeks. The results of this study showed that patients who underwent combined Xiaoxingnao acupuncture and electroacupuncture achieved an excellent total treatment effective rate of 93.3%, while those who received conventional medications plus infusions achieved a 76.7% total treatment effective rate.

The two aforementioned clinical studies demonstrate that different types of acupuncture have varying efficacy rates for the treatment of cervical spondylosis and cervical spondylotic radiculopathy. Electroacupuncture and Xiaoxingnao acupuncture were more effective than medications. Long needle acupuncture produced greater positive patient outcomes than conventional acupuncture. This reflects the dynamic nature of acupuncture and its flexibility for the treatment of these common conditions.

References:
Xie XY, Qing S, Liao JK, Xiao Y, Liu JQ. (2013). Clinical Efficacy of Long Needle Penetration Acupuncture on Cervical Spondylotic Radiculopathy: A Clinical Observation of 64 Cases. Guiding Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pharmacology. 7(7).

Yang JX, Yu JC, Zhang JP et al. (2012). Triple Jiao acupuncture in treating cervical spondylotic radiculopathy. Chinese General Practice. 15(25): 2963-2965.

Gong XL, Xue YY. (2014). Clinical Observation of Xiaoxingnao acupuncture Combined with Electroacupuncture at Cervical Jiaji Points in Treatment of Vertebral Artery Type of Cervical Spondylosis.
Journal of Hubei University of Chinese Medicine. 16(5).

Deng LX, Wu XP, Huang W, Wu QK & Jiang GD. (2008). Electroacupuncture in treating vertebral artery type of cervical spondylosis. Journal of Hubei College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 1.

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Study Shows Acupuncture Normalizes Hormones, Ups Pregnancy Rates

Study Shows Acupuncture Normalizes Hormones, Ups Pregnancy Rates

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.

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.

The study (Hu et al.) confirms that acupuncture normalizes prolactin levels more rapidly than receiving bromocriptine or bromocriptine plus clomiphene. Patients receiving acupuncture averaged a normalization of prolactin levels within two weeks. Patients receiving bromocriptine or bromocriptine plus clomiphene experienced normalization of prolactin levels within four weeks. The research indicates that acupuncture produces a faster homeostatic response for prolactin production in women with hyperprolactinemia.

One significant advantage to acupuncture treatment for the treatment of fertility emerged; acupuncture did not produce a high adverse effect rate. Conversely, fertility medications produced a high adverse effect rate. Patients receiving bromocriptine or bromocriptine plus clomiphene had a 63.33% adverse effect rate.

Hu et al. (Mawangdui Hospital of Hunan Province) determined that acupuncture is a preferential fertility treatment option for women with hyperprolactinemia. Production of greater positive patient outcomes combined with a significantly lower adverse affect rate was the basis for the conclusion. Let’s take a look at the treatment protocols for both the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approach and the pharmacological approach.

The investigation included 60 female patients with infertility due to hyperprolactinemia. They were randomly divided into two equal sized groups. Patients ranged from age 26 to 33. The duration of illness ranged from 2 to 8 years. Acupuncture group patients received only acupuncture. Medication group patients received bromocriptine or bromocriptine plus clomiphene. The clomiphene was added for patients with thermoregulation irregularities. The primary acupoints selected for acupuncture therapy were the following:

Qihai (CV6)
Guanyuan (CV4)
Zusanli (ST36)
Sanyinjiao (SP6)
Taichong (LV3)
Taixi (KD3)
Ligou (LV5)
Therapy commenced on the 8th day of menstruation. A 0.30 mm x 40 mm disposable needle was used to administer acupuncture on all acupoints. For Qihai and Guanyuan, the needle was inserted in a slanted orientation and an upwards direction, thereafter manipulated with the Bu (tonify) technique. Zusanli was pierced perpendicularly for a depth of 1.5 inches, and the needle was manipulated with the Bu technique. Taichong and Ligou were both pierced for a depth of 0.5 inches, perpendicularly and horizontally respectively, then treated with the Xie (reducing) needle manipulation technique. For Taixi, the needle was inserted perpendicularly 0.5 inches deep and manipulated with the Bu technique. A needle retention time of 30 minutes was observed. During each menstrual cycle, one daily acupuncture session was conducted for a total of 10 days. The above treatment was administered for a period of 1 year.

For the fertility medication control group, an initial dosage of 1.25 mg of bromocriptine was administered twice per day after meals for 7 consecutive days. After that, the dosage was increased to 2.5 mg. Patients remained on the medication for a period of 1 year. In cases where the patient did not experience changes in dual-directional thermoregulation after 3 months of bromocriptine treatment, clomiphene was administered to facilitate ovulation. Bromocriptine is a synthetic drug and is an analogue of ergot alkaloids. It stimulates cortical dopaminergic receptors thereby inhibiting prolactin release. Clomiphene is a fertility drug that stimulates ovulation.

In hyperprolactinemia, women have unusually high levels of peripheral prolactin (PRL) and experience hypothalamic pituitary gonadal axis dysfunction. This often causes menstrual disorders, galactorrhea, reproductive dysfunction, and infertility. The rate of occurrence of hyperprolactinemia is 0.4% among healthy women and 7% – 9% for infertile women (Zhang, 2012). The authors focused on the benefits of acupuncture for promoting fertility. However, the normalization of prolactin levels may have additional benefits for the patients. Further studies to examine the more global effects of acupuncture on PRL normalization and bodily health are required to quantify and confirm these additional benefits.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, hyperprolactinemia results from a Chong and Ren meridian imbalance. The acupuncture point prescription chosen for the treatment protocol reflects this principle. The signature Zusanli acupoint is effective in promoting overall qi circulation. Together with Qihai and Guanyuan, these three acupoints consolidate yuan qi, revitalize the body, nourish body cells, and strengthen the reproductive system. Taichong and Ligou are acupoints located along the liver meridian, making them significant acupoints for promoting liver health. Taixi, being a kidney meridian acupoint, is ideal for promoting kidney health. Sanyinjiao is a powerful acupoint that maintains general bodily health and has proven efficacy in treating gynecological disorders. Acupuncture administered to Taichong, Ligou, Taixi, and Sanyinjiao has an overall effect of promoting qi circulation along the liver, spleen, and kidney meridians. Acupuncture on all of the aforementioned acupoints collectively promotes liver and kidney health, dredges liver qi, and benefits the Chong and Ren meridians.

As part of continuing education in the field of acupuncture and clinical research, additional studies using this acupuncture point prescription protocol with larger sample sizes will help to confirm the findings of Hu et al. It will also be interesting to see a third study group added to future investigations comparing acupuncture combined with medications to groups receiving medications or acupuncture only.

Rubin et al. conducted an investigation of acupuncture combined with medications. The research team consisted of investigators from the University of Washington, Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, and Northwest Center for Reproductive Sciences. Their meta-analysis confirms that live birth rates increase when acupuncture is added to standard care protocols for women receiving donor egg IVF (in vitro fertilization).

Xu et al. conclude that acupuncture benefits fertility rates for women with anovulatory infertility. The Ruikang Hospital researchers had a sample size of 40 patients. The effective rate was 85% based on the pregnancy rates measured in follow-up examinations. Acupuncture normalized FSH, LH, and E2 levels. Additionally, the thickness of the endometrium and the follicle diameter increased. Zigong, CV4, and CV3 were the primary acupoints used in the treatment protocol supplemented by additional Ling Gui Ba Fa acupoints. Ling Gui Ba Fa (eightfold sacred tortoise method) employs the addition of acupoints from a selection from the eight confluent points based on the time of day.

Overall, there is wealth of information indicating that acupuncture is successful in promoting reproductive health. Pregnancy rates increase accompanied by measurable improvements in hormonal regulation. Additional research is warranted based on the evidence.

 

References:
Hu J, Yan XL & Wang ZX. (2014). Acupuncture and Bromocriptine in the Treatment of Special HPL in Infertile Women. Journal of Clinical Acupuncture and Moxibustion. 30(7).

Zhang P. (2012). Bromocriptine in treating hyperprolactinemia. Journal of Jingchu University of Technology. 24(7): 50-52.

Hullender Rubin, Lee E., Michael S. Opsahl, Lisa Taylor-Swanson, and Deborah L. Ackerman. “Acupuncture and In Vitro Fertilization: A Retrospective Chart Review.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (2013).

Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2012 Feb;32(2):113-6. Effects of electroacupuncture on embryo implanted potential for patients with infertility of different symptom complex]. Kong FY, Zhang QY, Guan Q, Jian FQ, Sun W, Wang Y. Department of Reproduction, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Shandong University of TCM, Jinan, China.

Xu, Yin, and Miao Zhang. Efficacy observation on 40 cases of anovulatory infertility treated by acupuncture and moxibustion. World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion 23, no. 1 (2013): 40-43.

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Acupuncture Produces Anti-inflammatory Responses

Acupuncture Produces Anti-inflammatory Responses

Researchers discover anti-inflammatory effects stimulated by acupuncture.

Anti-inflammatory biochemical responses are stimulated by the application of acupuncture. As a result, the body decreases swelling associated with arthritis. In addition, acupuncture prevents postoperative intra-abdominal adhesions. The research is confirmed across several studies including laboratory investigations.

A laboratory study reveals that the anti-inflammatory effects of acupuncture involve the downregulation of proinflammatory cellular biochemicals. In a controlled experiment, rheumatoid arthritis rats were divided into three groups. Group A did not receive medical treatment. Group B received electroacupuncture and group C received prednisolone acetate via intragastric infusion. Prednisolone acetate is a corticosteroid medication. Acupuncture successfully reduced physical inflammation and downregulated proinflammatory biochemicals.

The non-treatment group had elevated levels of proinflammatory biochemicals and significant increases in physical inflammation. The acupuncture and prednisolone acetate groups demonstrated significantly lower levels of proinflammatory biochemicals in the bloodstream in addition to less physical inflammation measured at the ankles. Acupuncture was applied to acupoints Zusanli (ST36) and Kunlun (BL60) for thirty minutes, once per day, for ten days. Let’s take a look at the results.

Acupuncture and prednisolone acetate significantly downregulated serum TNF-α, IL-1β, and ICAM-1 in the rheumatoid arthritis model rats. Measurements taken at the ankles demonstrated significant reductions in swelling determined by the diameter of the ankles. The researchers conclude, “EA [electroacupuncture] intervention is effective in relieving RA [rheumatoid arthritis] rats’ inflammatory reactions by down-regulating the levels of serum TNF-α, IL-1β and ICAM-1.”

TNF-α (tumor necrosis factor alpha) is a cell signaling protein active in systemic inflammation. It is a cytokine comprising one of the biochemicals involved in acute phase reactions and is primarily produced by macrophages. TNF-α is implicated in the pathogenesis of severe infectious diseases including cerebral malaria. IL-1β (interleukin 1 beta) is a cytokine that contributes to inflammatory pain hypersensitivity. ICAM-1 (intercellular adhesion molecule 1) is exploited by rhinovirus as a receptor and produces proinflammatory effects including hypersensitivity reactions.

The research of Ouyang et al. is consistent with the biochemical findings demonstrating that acupuncture stimulates an anti-inflammatory biochemical cascade. Ouyang et al. note that electroacupuncture “effectively lower[s] the contents of TNF-α and VEGF in peripheral blood and joint synovia to improve the internal environment for genesis and development of RA [rheumatoid arthritis], so as to enhance the clinical therapeutic effectiveness.” The researchers demonstrated that both manual acupuncture and electroacupuncture significantly reduce both serum and synovial joint levels of TNF-a and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) for human patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

The research of Du et al. is consistent with these findings. Du et al. note that electroacupuncture at acupoint ST36 (Zusanli) “reduced TNF-α and VEGF levels in adhesive tissue homogenates 7 d[ays] after surgery….” In addition, “sham acupuncture had no suppressive effects on TNF-α and VEGF levels.” Du et al. add that electroacupuncture prevents postoperative intra-abdominal adhesions and electroacupuncture at “ST36 alleviated the adhesion formation, with both of macroscopic and histopathologic adhesion scores significantly lower than” the sham acupuncture group.

The research presented here demonstrates the biochemical basis by which acupuncture exerts anti-inflammatory effects. The research indicates that acupuncture is beneficial to patients with rheumatoid arthritis and those recovering from abdominal surgery. Given the scientific evidence, additional research is warranted.

References:
Zhang, R., L. H. Guo, Y. Yin, T. W. Chen, and W. Z. Ma. “Effect of Electroacupuncture on Serum TNF-α, IL-1β and Intercellular adhesion molecule 1 Levels in Rheumatoid Arthritis Rats.” Zhen ci yan jiu= Acupuncture research/[Zhongguo yi xue ke xue yuan Yi xue qing bao yan jiu suo bian ji] 41, no. 1 (2016): 51.

McGuire, William, Adrian VS Hill, Catherine EM Allsopp, Brian M. Greenwood, and Dominic Kwiatkowski. “Variation in the TNF-α promoter region associated with susceptibility to cerebral malaria.” (1994): 508-511.

Ouyang, Ba-si; Gao, Jie; Che, Jian-li; Zhang, Yin; Li, Jun; Yang, Hai-zhou; Hu, Tian-yan; Yang, Man; Wu, Yuan-jian; Ji, Ling-ling. Effect of electro-acupuncture on tumor necrosis factor-α and vascular endothelial growth factor in peripheral blood and joint synovia of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine. 2011-07-01. Chinese Association of Traditional and Western Medicine, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences. 672-0415, 505- 509 v17 issue 7.

Du, Ming-Hua, Hong-Min Luo, Yi-Jun Tian, Li-Jian Zhang, Zeng-Kai Zhao, Yi Lv, Rui-Jiang Xu, and Sen Hu. “Electroacupuncture ST36 prevents postoperative intra-abdominal adhesions formation.” Journal of Surgical Research 195, no. 1 (2015): 89-98.

http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1634-acupuncture-produces-anti-inflammatory-responses

Acupuncture Found Effective for Depression Treatment

Research Shows Acupuncture Prevents and Clears Migraines

Researchers have successfully documented not only that acupuncture is safe and effective for the relief of migraines, but also how acupuncture achieves positive outcomes.

Acupuncture has been shown to induce important biological responses to prevent and alleviate migraines. Imaging studies of the brain using fMRI technology confirm that acupuncture causes specific cortical responses to achieve lasting analgesic effects. In addition, blood level measurements document specific responses to acupuncture that play an important role in preventing and eliminating pain. Let’s take a look at the data to see how scientists have mapped how acupuncture works to stop migraine headaches.

Researchers conclude that acupuncture is effective for the prevention and treatment of migraine headaches. A meta-analysis of controlled clinical and laboratory investigations is the basis for the conclusion. In one randomized-controlled trial on the effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment for migraines, less migraine days and less pain intensity levels were recorded when acupuncture was administered. Furthermore, no severe adverse effects occurred. A follow-up of up to three months following acupuncture treatments maintained the same results and showed that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of migraines both on the short-term and long-term basis. 

In another investigation, researchers conducting a clinically-controlled study using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) found a significant decrease in the functional connectivity of the right frontoparietal network of migraine patients. This connectivity dysfunctions was found to be reversible after four weeks of treatment using acupuncture. This is another curative effect of acupuncture that is quantifiable in repeated controlled experiments.

For more than 2,000 years, people have used acupuncture in China for the treatment of various pain conditions, including migraines. It is useful, both as a supplementary treatment and as an alternative treatment, in situations where there is no response to drug therapy. Migraines are a headache disorder affecting a broad population that causes societal burdens due to associated healthcare costs and absenteeism from school and work. Approximately 23% of households in the United States have at least one member who suffers from migraines. The estimated total number of migraine patients in the United States exceeds 28 million and half of them have reduced work or school productivity. 

Scientists have uncovered some of the biochemical mechanisms responsible for acupuncture’s pain killing effects. Drugs used for the treatment of migraines often mediate the analgesic action for cerebral vasodilation dysfunction and pain through the induction of cerebral vasoconstriction. In the process of vasoconstriction, myosin light chain kinase in cerebral vessels are activated. In an experiment conducted using animals with migraines, acupuncture has been found to “induce activation of myosin light chain kinase in the middle meningeal artery.” This indicates that the effective action of acupuncture for relief and prevention of migraines is due, at least in part, to its ability to regulate myosin light chain kinase activity.

In another randomized-controlled trial, fMRIs reveal acupuncture’s ability to regulate key regions of the brain affected by migraines. The areas are essentially the pain circuitry regions of the brain and cognitive components of pain processing. In addition, acupuncture also restores normal serum nitric oxide (NO) levels that have been found to be almost 55% higher in patients with migraines. Excess NO is a potent vasodilator contributing to headaches and acupuncture restores homeostasis. The regulatory effects of acupuncture can be quantified as early as the fifth acupucture session and the effects are cumulative.

Additional research documents acupuncture’s ability to regulate bodily biochemistry. In one study, researchers document that acupuncture reduces MMP-2 (metalloproteinase-2) activity in patients without affecting its concentrations. In controlled experiments, researchers conclude that the combination of acupuncture and electrical stimulation of needles (electroacupuncture) relieves pain experienced during migraine attacks through the reduction of plasma glutamate levels. Based on these and other studies in the meta-analysis, the researchers conclude that acupuncture improves patients’ psychological profile, relieves pain, is safe and cost-effective, and has been found to be at least as effective as conventional preventative pharmacologic treatments for migraines.

References:
Wang Y, Xue CC, Helme R, Da Costa C, Zheng Z (2015) Acupuncture for Frequent Migraine: A Randomized, Patient/Assessor Blinded, Controlled Trial with One-Year Follow-Up. Evid based Complement Alternat Med 2015: 920353.

Da Silva AN (2015) Acupuncture for migraine prevention. Headache 55: 470-473.

Vijayalakshmi I, Sjankar N, Saxena A, Bhatia MS (2014) Coomparison of effectiveness of acupuncture therapy and conventional drug therapy on psychological profile of migraine patients. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 58: 69-76.

http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1661-acupuncture-prevents-and-clears-migraines

Acupuncture Moves Stool, Relieves Constipation

Acupuncture Moves Stool, Relieves Constipation

Clinical trials demonstrate that acupuncture relieves chronic constipation and produces greater long-term patient outcomes than drugs.

Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine researchers find true acupuncture more effective than sham acupuncture for the relief of constipation. In another study by Yang et al., acupuncture combined with herbal medicine relieves constipation in the elderly and demonstrates superior patient outcomes to pharmaceutical medications. Acupuncture plus herbs produced a high total effective rate and very low relapse rate. Let’s take a look at the results of the investigations.

Zheng et al. (Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine) conclude that acupuncture is safe and effective for the treatment of functional constipation, often referred to as chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC). This type of constipation does not have a known anatomical or physiological etiology in biomedicine. CIC often involves infrequent defecation, hard stools, straining during bowel movements, and incomplete evacuation of stools. Secondary symptoms include stomach cramping, pain, and abdominal bloating or distention.

The study examines the efficaciousness of front mu (ST25) and back shu (BL25) acupoints of the large intestine meridian. This approach is consistent with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) principles. The large intestine foot-yangming channel is often an integral aspect to treatments for constipation.

The researchers note that functional constipation is classified in the Da Bian Nan (difficulty in bowel movement) category in TCM. They cite prior research indicating that acupuncture effectively treats the root causes of constipation. As a result, acupuncture patients have lower relapse rates than patients having taken mosapride, a medication used to facilitate bowel movements. Although the drug is effective, the research indicates a relatively high relapse rate (54.2%) following discontinuation of the drug. The researchers add that acupuncture is effective without significant adverse effects whereas mosapride may cause loose stools, dizziness, headaches, insomnia, abdominal pain, and borborygmus. Mosapride is a serotonin 5HT₄-receptor agonist and serotonin 5HT₃-receptor antagonist that is a gastroprokinetic agent.

Acupuncture at the large intestine foot-yangming front mu and back shu points was compared with sham acupoint controls to ensure validity of the data. In a prior meta-analysis, acupuncture had a 72.8% total effective rate for the treatment of constipation. In this study, the classic front mu and back shu combination achieved an 82.56% total effective rate.

The active sham control group had a 67.65% total effective rate compared with the 82.56% total effective rate of the true acupuncture group. Notably, the sham points were located and needled 1 cm laterally to the true acupuncture point locations. This active sham control method may have contributed to clinical successes in the sham group. Nonetheless, the true acupuncture group significantly outperformed the sham control group. True acupuncture had better frequency of bowel movement scores, difficulty of bowel movement scores, and a higher total effective rate. The study involved 72 voluntary patients from the gastrointestinal department at Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Inclusion criteria were established and included the following:

Visited the hospital between October 2010 and December 2014

Met the Rome III diagnostic standard for functional constipation

Between 18 – 75 years old

Did not take any stomach or intestinal prokinetic medications within one week prior to the research starting date

Not participating in any other clinical research

Patients who had the following conditions were filtered out of the selection:

Constipation secondary due to biologically identified illness

Unable to describe symptoms due to ambiguous consciousness or psychosis

Progressive malignant tumors or other severe consumptive diseases

Prone to infection and bleeding

Severe primary and concomitant cardiovascular, liver, kidney, digestive or hematopoietic diseases

Pregnant or lactating

Participating in other clinical research

The patients were randomly divided into two groups of 36 patients each: true acupuncture treatment group, sham control group. The average age of participants was 44 years. There were 9 males and 27 females in the treatment group. There were 11 males and 25 females in the control group. The acupoints selected for the treatment group were the following:

Tianshu (ST25) – Large intestine front mu acupoint

Dachangshu (BL25) – Large intestine back shu acupoint

For the control group, body points selected were neither meridian acupoints nor special acupoints. They were located at the following areas:

 

1 cm to laterally to ST25

1 cm to laterally to to BL25

For both groups, each point was pierced with a disposable 0.3 mm X 50 mm needle (Huatuo brand, Suzhou Medical Equipment Ltd.), adhering to standard piercing depths. For each acupuncture point, the following protocol was observed. After regular disinfection, the needle was inserted into the point and manipulated with pulling, pushing or twisting techniques at a speed of 60 – 90 times per minute. The angle of twist was 90 – 180 degrees and the depth was 0.3 – 0.5 cm. Next, a needle retention time of 30 minutes was observed. Thereafter, the needle was removed and pressure was applied to the point with a dry cotton ball to prevent bleeding.

One 30 minute session was conducted per day. A full treatment cycle consisted of 5 consecutive days. The entire treatment course comprised 4 treatment cycles for a grand total of 20 acupuncture treatments. To evaluate the treatment effective rate, patients were scored before and after the treatments. The constipation signs and symptoms were evaluated for the following:

Frequency of bowel movement

Difficulty in bowel movement

Time taken to bowel movement

Comfort during bowel movement (strain, incomplete bowel movement, bloating, etc.)

Type of Feces

Treatment effective rates were categorized into 4 tiers:

Full recovery: No functional constipation symptoms and physical signs. Improvement rate score ≥90%

Significant improvement: Significant improvement in functional constipation symptoms and physical signs. Improvement rate score ≥70%

Improvement: Moderate improvement in functional constipation symptoms and physical signs. Improvement rate score ≥30%

Ineffective: Little improvement in functional constipation symptoms and physical signs. Improvement rate score <30%

The clinical results of the study by Zheng et al. demonstrate that acupuncture is an effective procedure for the treatment of functional constipation. Compared with prior investigations, the classic front mu and back shu acupoint combination of the large intestine meridian demonstrates excellent rates of positive patient outcomes. Let’s take a look at another study.

Yang et al. (Tianjin and Tongren, China) investigated the effects of acupuncture and traditional herbal medicine on constipation in the elderly. They determined that the combination of both TCM modalities is a more effective constipation in the elderly treatment protocol than a conventional pharmaceutical medication. However, the results were close. TCM yielded a 100% total effective rate and the gastroprokinetic agent cisapride had a 94.83% total effective rate.

In the elderly, constipation is a common complication secondary to other illnesses. Epidemiological studies demonstrate that 60% of the elderly suffer from constipation to varying degrees (Du et al.). The prevention and cure for constipation therefore has a high clinical value and significance. Biomedical etiologies often point to poor peristaltic movement in many cases of constipation in the elderly. This lengthens the stool retention duration and hardens stools due to excess absorption of water.

Constipation may cause acute and chronic stress in the elderly. For elderly patients, exertion during bowel movements may cause a change in coronary and cerebral vascular flow, potentially leading to more threatening conditions including angina, acute myocardial infarction, arrhythmias, high blood pressure, cerebral vascular damage, or death. A common treatment for constipation with medications often employs the purgation method, which is effective in the short-term. However, long-term purgation treatments may result in electrolyte imbalances or varying degrees of stomachaches and diarrhea.

In TCM, chronic constipation in the elderly is often due to a weak liver and kidneys, poor qi and bood circulation, and subsequent malnourishment of the large intestine. TCM also states that long-term consumption of bitter and chilled foods damage the spleen and stomach, slows qi and blood replenishment, and ultimately weakens peristaltic movements thereby affecting the ability to evacuate feces. Professor Han Jing Xuan from Tianjin University of TCM established a protocol using the Sanjiao acupuncture method and the traditional herbal decoction Huang Di San. These two therapeutic approaches have been extensively used in the clinical treatment of a wide range of elderly related diseases including constipation in the elderly.

The acupuncture protocol involves the needling of Zhongwan, Zusanli, and Xuehai to promote spleen and stomach health. Xuehai also promotes blood circulation and minimizes blood stasis. The Waiguan acupoint circulates and nourishes qi in the Sanjiao (triple burner). The study by Yang et al. followed the protocols established by Prof. Han Jing Xuan.

Using the established protocols, acupuncture plus herbs achieved a 100% total effective rate. Cisapride achieved a 94.83% total effective rate. Furthermore, the long-term improvement rate for the Sanjiao acupuncture and Huang Di San protocol was 88.33%. Cisapride had a 46.55% long-term improvement rate.

A total of 118 elderly constipation patients were randomly divided into two groups: treatment group, control group. The control group was given cisapride and the treatment group was given the Sanjiao acupuncture and Huang Di San protocol. Upon starting and throughout the treatment, both groups were given daily activity recommendations: maintain positive emotions, consume high-fiber foods, keep warm. For the Sanjiao acupuncture therapy, the selected primary acupoints were the following:

Shanzhong (CV17)

Zhongwan (CV12)

Qihai (CV6)

Zusanli (ST36)

Xuehai (SP10)

Waiguan (TB5)

After standard disinfection, a 0.25 mm disposable needle was swiftly inserted into each acupoint with a high entry speed. The Shanzhong acupoint was needled transverse-obliquely following the path of the Ren meridian for 0.5 – 1 inches. Other acupoints were pierced perpendicularly up to a depth of 0.5 – 1 inches. The Bu (rotate and push) manipulation technique was applied for Shanzhong, Zhongwan, Qihai, and Zusanli for 1 minute. The Xie (rotate and pull) technique was used on Xuehai for 1 minute. A needle retention time of 30 minutes was observed.

One 30 minute acupuncture session was conducted once per day. A full treatment cycle consisted of 10 days. The entire treatment course comprised 2 treatment cycles for a grand total of 20 days. The mandatory ingredients used in the Huang Di San herbal decoction were as follows:

Huang Jing (15 g)

Sheng Di Huang (15 g)

Sha Ren (15 g)

Pei Lan (15 g)

Shou Wu (15 g)

Dang Gui (15 g)

Additional herbs were added according to the nature of constipation. For patients with deficiency the following herbs were added:

Rou Cong Rong (12 g)

Bai Zhu (12 g)

Mai Dong (12 g)

Huang Qi (12 g)

Dang Shen (12 g)

Shan Yao (12 g)

For patients with primary deficiency with secondary excess (Ben Xu Biao Shi) differential diagnostic pattern differentiations, the following herbs were added:

Yu Li Ren (10 g)

Chuan Xiong (10 g)

Chi Shao (10 g)

Tao Ren (10 g)

Dan Zhu Ye (10 g)

The prescribed ingredients were brewed with water to make an herbal decoction. One brew was consumed orally per day in three separate doses throughout the day. One treatment cycle consisted of 10 days and the entire treatment course comprised 2 treatment cycles for a grand total of 20 days. Subjects in the control group took 10 mg of cisapride tablets, 3 times per day, before lunch, dinner, and sleeping. Treatment efficacy was categorized into 4 tiers:

Recovery: Bowel movement within 12 hours. No other symptoms. Scored 0 for interval between bowel movements

Significantly effective: Significant improvement in constipation. Bowel movement within 24 hours. Normal or slightly dry feces. No difficulty in bowel movement. Scored 1 – 9 for interval between bowel movements

Effective: Bowel movement within 72 hours. Moist feces. Slight difficulty in bowel movement. Scored 10 – 18 for interval between bowel movements

Ineffective: No changes in symptoms. Scored 19 – 20 for interval between bowel movements

The results indicate that acupuncture with herbs is more effective than the prescribed medication. Both studies mentioned in this report demonstrate that acupuncture is safe and effective for the treatment of constipation. Important features of TCM protocols is that they produce a high total effective rate, low relapse rate, and no significant adverse effects.

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References:

Ouyang, H. & Chen, J. Therapeutic roles of acupuncture in functional gastrointestinal disorders [J]. Alimentary pharmacology & therapeutics, 2004, 20(8): 831-841.

 

Zheng, H. B. & Chen,Y. (2015). A clinical randomized controlled trial of acupuncture at the combination of back shu point and front-mu point of large intestine meridian in the treatment of functional constipation. Practical Journal of Clinical Medicine. 4 (12).

 

Yang JX, Yu JC & Han JX. (2014). Clinical Study on Treatment of constipation in the elderly with Combination of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. World Science and Technology-Modernization of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 16(6).

 

Du WF, Yu L, Yan XK et al. (2012). Meta-analysis in acupuncture therapy in treating constipation. Journal of Chinese Acupuncture. 32(1): 92-96.

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