Researchers find acupuncture combined with clomiphene more effective than clomiphene plus supplementary hormonal pharmaceuticals for the treatment of infertility. The combination of acupuncture plus clomiphene produces significantly higher pregnancy rates for women with anovulatory infertility than clomiphene plus estradiol cypionate and dydrogesterone. The data was published in the report entitled Effects of Acupuncture on the Endometrium in Anovulatory Cases Treated by Clomiphene: A Clinical Observation.
The addition of acupuncture to clomiphene therapy increased pregnancy rates, lowered the resistance and pulsatility indices of the uterine arteries, and reduced the adverse effects caused by clomiphene. The increase in positive patient outcomes combined with reductions of adverse effects supports the research team’s (Taian Maternal and Child Health Care Hospital) conclusion, “TCM [Traditional Chinese Medicine] can be either applied alone or combined with Western medicine to up pregnancy rates and treat infertility. With the help of TCM [i.e., acupuncture], treatment for infertility can be more effective while producing much less adverse effects.” 
Clomiphene triggers the pituitary gland to produce hormones that stimulate ovulation. The upside of this medication is that it stimulates the release of eggs from the ovaries. The downside is that it may produce adverse effects and it is contraindicated for patients with endometriosis and uterine fibroids. Notably, it may increase the incidence of having twins or triplets. The researchers conclude that the addition of acupuncture to the clomiphene treatment regimen mitigates the drug’s adverse effects and ups the pregnancy rate. Moreover, the acupuncture protocol outperforms the clomiphene plus estradiol cypionate and dydrogesterone protocol. Estradiol cypionate is an estrogen hormone and is often used for the treatment of low estrogen levels. Estradiol cypionate may increase the rate of developing blood clots, melasma (dark skin patches on the face), and may cause other adverse effects. Dydrogesterone is a steroidal progestin used in many countries for the treatment of infertility and threatened miscarriages.
The clinical study was conducted with a semi-protocolized approach to acupuncture point selection. Identical primary acupuncture points were assigned to all patients and secondary acupuncture points were prescribed based upon differential diagnostics. As a variable control, secondary acupuncture point prescriptions were limited to one of three acupuncture point groupings: liver qi stagnation, phlegm-dampness, blood stasis. Patients were not divided into treatment and control groups based upon the diagnostic groups. Instead, they were randomly divided into three groups and then diagnostic decisions were made for the addition of secondary acupuncture points for the TCM treatment group.
A total of 43 patients were randomly distributed into three groups. Group 1 received only clomiphene. Group 2 received clomiphene plus estradiol cypionate and dydrogesterone. Group 3 received clomiphene plus acupuncture and moxibustion. The number of patients in each group was 15, 14, and 14 respectively. Patients ranged from ages 21–39. The preexisting duration of anovulatory infertility ranged from 1–8 years.
Groups 1 and 2 received 50–100 mg of clomiphene, once per day. Group 2 also received 1 mg of estradiol cypionate and 10 mg of dydrogesterone. Group 3 received clomiphene plus acupuncture and moxibustion. The administration of care for all groups started on the 5th day of menstruation and lasted for 5 consecutive days. One treatment course consisted of three menstrual cycles. In total, 1–2 courses of treatment were applied. The TCM acupuncture treatment protocol was as follows. Patients rested in a supine position. Upon disinfection, a 0.30 mm x 40 mm filiform needle was inserted into the following acupoints:
CV4, CV3, Zigong, and ST29 were inserted transverse-obliquely (15° angle) to a depth of 1–1.2 cm. SP6 and ST36 were needled perpendicularly and manipulated with the Ping Bu Ping Xie (tonify and sedate) technique. Additional acupoints were administered based on differential diagnostic patterns. For liver qi stagnation, the following acupoint was added:
For phlegm and dampness, the following acupoint was added:
For blood stasis, the following acupoints were added:
Moxibustion sessions lasted 30 minutes and were applied at a heat intensity level until the skin became flushed. Sessions were conducted once per day. Moxibustion was not applied until 10 days passed after ovulation. Moxibustion was applied at the following acupoints:
Additional research confirms that acupuncture combined with moxibustion is effective for the treatment of infertility. Researchers conclude that acupuncture acts on the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and ovaries and regulates hormone levels in the body. [2, 3] Yu et al. conclude that electroacupuncture can increase gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) levels and increases sensitivity of the ovaries to gonadotropin. The study documents that electroacupuncture is effective for the treatment of infertility in anovulatory cases with low levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH).
In a related study, Xu et.al conclude that acupuncture combined with moxibustion increases ovulation rates.  The treatment protocol was as follows. First, acupuncture was applied to the following acupoints:
Additional acupoints were added based upon diagnostic patterns. For liver qi stagnation, BL18 was added; for phlegm and dampness, ST40 was added; for blood stasis, SP10 and LV2 were added. Next, moxibustion was applied to Zigong, CV3, CV4, and ST36. Subsequently, an electroacupuncture device was connected to the acupoints. The treatment was applied daily for 3–7 consecutive days. The results of B-scan ultrasonography conducted during the study documents that ovulation rates increase when acupuncture combined with moxibustion is applied.
In another study, acupuncture has been found effective for increasing infertility rates for women receiving IVF (in vitro fertilization) treatments. This highlights the role of acupuncture in an integrative medicine environment. University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers conclude that acupuncture increases pregnancy rates for women receiving IVF. In a study of 16 high quality clinical trials consisting of 4,021 subjects, acupuncture significantly raised pregnancy rates for women receiving IVF where otherwise pregnancy rates would have been low.
Strong evidence indicates that acupuncture increases pregnancy rates for women with anovulatory infertility and other forms of infertility. Acupuncture has been proven an effective complementary therapy to drug therapy and IVF protocols. Research indicates that acupuncture provides an additional benefit; it reduces the adverse effect rates of infertility medications. Based on the findings of modern research, the use of acupuncture is an appropriate, safe, and effective complementary therapy for the treatment of infertility.
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1. Effects of Acupuncture on the Endometrium in Anovulatory Cases Treated by Clomiphene: A Clinical Observation. Journal of Taishan Medical College. 2016, 37(9):1029-1031.
2. Yu J, Zheng HM, Bing SM. Changes in sSrum FSH, LH and Ovarian Follicular Growth During Electroacupuncture for Induction of Ovulation [J]. Chinese Journal of Integrated Traditional and Western Medicine. 1989, 9(4):199-202.
3. Sha GE, Huang WC, Ma RH. Acupuncture for Infertility: A Clinical Observation Based on 84 cases [J]. Journal of Clinical Acupuncture and Moxibustion. 1998, 14(1):16-18.
5. Xu XF, Gu Y, Gu Ling, Zhu YP. Investigating Advantages of TCM Intervention for Inducting Ovulation in Infertile Women [J]. Chinese Archives of Traditional Chinese Medicine. 2012, 30(3):467-468.
6. Cao ZY. Obstetrics and Gynecology [M]. Beijing: People’s Military Medical Publisher. 1999: 2474.
7. Manheimer, Eric, Daniëlle van der Windt, Ke Cheng, Kristen Stafford, Jianping Liu, Jayne Tierney, Lixing Lao, Brian M. Berman, Patricia Langenberg, and Lex M. Bouter. “The effects of acupuncture on rates of clinical pregnancy among women undergoing in vitro fertilization: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Human reproduction update (2013). University of Maryland.
Acupuncture and herbs outperform drug therapy for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Researchers compared two groups, one received acupuncture and herbal medicine and the other received drug therapy. The group receiving acupuncture and herbs had superior positive patient outcome rates. Acupuncture and herbs produced clinical outcomes yielding greater improvements in stool consistency and significantly greater reductions of abdominal pain, mucus in the stool, bloating, and bowel urgency.
Chongqing Nanchuan Hospital researchers started with a sample size of 126 human patients with IBS. The patients were randomly divided into the acupuncture plus herbs group and the drug group, with a total of 63 patients in each group. For both groups, there were improvements in abdominal pain and discomfort scores. However, the acupuncture plus herbs group demonstrated significantly greater clinical improvements. In addition, the group receiving acupuncture plus herbs had greater reductions of anxiety levels and behavioral disorders. The data indicates that the acupuncture plus herbs group had significant improvements in general psychological well-being and overall perceived energy levels.
IBS affects the large intestine and involves cramping, distention, diarrhea or constipation, and abdominal pain. Often, there is mucus in the stool and the condition is chronic. Exacerbating factors include specific foods, hormonal changes, stress, and secondary illnesses. IBS tends to occur in younger patients and the rate is double for women. IBS, when presenting as a long-standing illness, often involves dietary restrictions and accidental malnourishment caused by an attempt to avoid exacerbating foods. The long-standing nature of the illness may also contribute to mental depression. Two major types of diagnostic criteria define IBS, the Rome criteria and the Manning criteria.
For the Rome criteria, one important parameter is that abdominal pain lasts for a minimum of 3 days per month and involves at least two of the following: decreased pain after defecation, changes in frequency of defecation, changes in consistency of stool. The Manning criteria includes pain relieved by defecation but also takes into account mucus in stool, incomplete bowels movements, and variability of stool consistency. An MD may order a colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, lower GI series (liquid barium X-ray), or CT scan to confirm the diagnosis.
All participants and procedures were approved by the Chongqing Nanchuan Hospital medical ethics committee. All participants were volunteers with a diagnosis of IBS, prerequisite abdominal pain, and abnormal defecation. No participants were admitted to the study groups that had taken medications within three month prior to the investigation. Exclusion criteria involved several other parameters: mental illness, low blood pressure, history of abdominal surgery.
The sample size involved 67 males and 59 females, with an average age of 55 years. The average duration of IBS per patient was 31 years. After randomization into the two groups, there were no significant differences in terms of age, gender, and course of IBS duration.
The group receiving drug therapy was administered loperamide hydrochloride capsules (1 tablet, 3 times per day), 30 minutes before meals. In addition, they received 9 g of Si Shen Wan, two times per day. Loperamide hydrochlorida (trade name IMODIUM) is used to control diarrhea. Functionally, loperamide hydrochloride slows bowel movements to achieve its effective action. The drug may cause drowsiness, fatigue, or dizziness and is not recommended for breast-feeding mothers because the drug is transferred through the milk. In this acupuncture continuing education study, the group receiving acupuncture plus herbal medicine was administered the following medicinal formula (prepared in the form of a decoction):
Zhi Gan Cao
Based on diagnostics, modifications were made to the formula. For patients with severe diarrhea, Bai Bian Dou and Fu Ling were added. Zhi Ke, Fo Shou, and Mu Xiang were added for cases of pronounced abdominal swelling and pain. For mucus in the stool, Huo Po and Cang Zhu were added. Yu Li Ren was added for patients with constipation. The following protocolized set of acupuncture points were administered to the patients:
Shangjuxu, ST37 (Upper Great Void)
Quchi, LI11 (Pool at the Crook)
Dachangshu, BL25 (Large Intestine Shu)
Tianshu, ST25 (Heaven’s Pivot)
Sterile filiform acupuncture needles were used. At ST37, the needle insertion depth range between 1–2 inches. For LI11, the depth of insertion was 0.5–2 inches. For BL25, the insertion depth was 0.8–1.2 inches. For ST25, needle depth was 1–1.5 inches. Reinforcing and reducing manual acupuncture techniques were applied with twisting, lifting, and thrusting motions. Total needle retention time was 30 minutes per acupuncture visit. For both the drug and acupuncture plus herbs groups, the total treatment duration was 28 days. Dietary modifications for all patients in both groups included the following recommendations:
No raw, cold, or spicy food
Regulate consumption of food to moderate levels of intake
Regular meals consumed at regular intervals, 3 times per day
Non-oily, light foods that are easily digested are appropriate
Non-oily, light, and easily digested foods are appropriate
Several important findings were made. The acupuncture plus herbal medicine group had greater positive patient outcomes. In addition, the relapse rate was lower in the acupuncture plus herbs group than the drug group. The results indicate that acupuncture, herbs, and continuing patient education on dietary modifications is an effective integrative approach to patient care for patients with IBS.
Herbal medicine gained recognition for the treatment of IBS in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The prestigious journal published the findings of an Australian randomized, double-blinded, placebo controlled study conducted by gastroenterologists and herbalists. The researchers concluded that Chinese herbal medicine “offer[s] improvements in symptoms for some The results reflect an enhanced positive patient outcome rate, which is consistent with the flexibility of the study design.patients with IBS.” The results reflect an enhanced positive patient outcome rate, which is consistent with the flexibility of the study design.
Zhang Yousheng, Zhang Xiaodong, Investigation of the Effect on Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome with Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, Chongqing Nanchuan Hospital, 2016.
Sun YZ & Song J. (2014). Therapeutic Observation of Acupuncture at Jiaji (EX-B2) for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion. 34(9).
Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2012 Oct;32(10):957-60. [Meta analysis of acupuncture-moxibustion in treatment of irritable bowel syndrome]. Pei LX, Zhang XC, Sun JH, Geng H, Wu XL. Acupuncture and Rehabilitation Department, Jiangsu Province Hospital of TCM, Nanjing, China.
JAMA. 1998 Nov 11;280(18):1585-9. Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with Chinese herbal medicine: a randomized controlled trial. Bensoussan A, Talley NJ, Hing M, Menzies R, Guo A, Ngu M. Research Unit for Complementary Medicine, University of Western Sydney Macarthur, Campbelltown, New South Wales, Australia.
Liu, Xiao-xia. “Moxibustion on Shenque (CV 8) improves effect of acupuncture for diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome.” Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science 12, no. 6 (2014): 362-365.
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:
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.
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.
A lot of people have feet aversions. They sweat, they smell, they tickle, they hurt, and sometimes they pick up a fungus and itch and burn. Most of us will deal with athlete’s foot at some point in our lives, and not everyone will know how to choose the best course of action to treat it. Some will even ignore it for long periods before treatment, which makes it harder to actually cure the condition.
With wet autumn weather, and the reintroduction of socks, it’s very important to take care of your foot health. A few simple things you can do to prevent athlete’s foot:
1) Take the time to dry between your toes!
2) Put on a fresh pair of socks after exercise or sweating, or if your feet get wet walking in the rain and snow.
3) Let your feet breathe. Go barefoot for periods during the day.
4) Avoid a diet high in sugar and fruit.
For treatment of athlete’s foot:
1) Vitamins, including A, E, and C stimulate the immune system and promote healthy skin.
2) Garlic is a natural anti-fungal, and 2 capsules 2-3 times per day can help combat fungus like athlete’s foot.
3) Probiotics help normalize the good and bad bio-flora in your system.
4) Essential fatty acids help the body heal from skin disorders.
5) Topical application of tea tree oil.
Affinity Acupuncture can also help restore your body to balance through acupuncture sessions at our Brentwood, TN location, and with the assistance of Traditional Chinese Medicine such as herbal remedies.
Nearly 20 million Americans are living with some form of thyroid disorder, and many don’t even realize it. The butterfly-shaped gland in the neck regulates hormone levels, energy levels, body weight, and mental health. When it is over or under productive, a lot can go wrong.
Hyperthyroidism (Overproduction of thyroid hormones)
Increased appetite and weight loss
• Nervousness, excess perspiration, heart palpitations, increased heart rate, higher blood pressure
• Muscle weakness, sometimes with trembling hands
• Lighter or shorter menses
• More frequent bowel movements with occasional diarrhea
Hypothyroidism (Underproduction of thyroid hormones)
• Tingling of numbness in hands
• Increased sensitivity to cold
• Heavy menses
• Dry skin and hair
• Depression and/or slower mental processes
Acupuncture and herbal remedies can help regulate the release of thyroid hormones and restore immune function. It can also regulate energy levels, stabilize emotions, and help manage sleep and menstrual issues. There are also foods that can increase or decrease thyroid hormone production.