SAULT STE MARIE ON ----- October 23, 2011 --- Acupuncture is an ancient form of Chinese medicine that involves inserting stainless steel needles into certain points on the body to bring about a therapeutic effect. Acupuncture points are places on the skin that have a lower resistance to the passage of electricity than the surrounding skin. Points are found along “meridians” or “channels” that are believed to be the pathways by which energy or “Qi” flows through the body.
Acupuncture is a staple therapy in my practice. I appreciate its versatility and use it to encourage natural healing, improve mood and energy, reduce stress, relieve pain and improve function to affected parts of the body.
One of the most common questions I am asked is, “What conditions can be treated using acupuncture?” Because acupuncture is a constitutional treatment (it treats the individual with the disease, not the disease itself) it can be individualized to each person’s needs and energy imbalances. Therefore, the possible applications or conditions it can be effective for are numerous. But, for the sake of discussion, let’s take an evidence-based look at some of the conditions that acupuncture has proven effective:
A recent meta-analysis four randomized, placebo controlled studies which examined the effects of acupuncture on Bell’s Palsy versus drug therapy. Significant improvements in disease response rate (how quickly the disease responded to the therapy) were seen in the acupuncture treated groups.
Chin J Integr Med. 2011 Oct 12. [Epub ahead of print]
Acupuncture for Bell's palsy: A systematic review and meta-analysis.
40 patients were randomly assigned to one of four groups: manual acupuncture, electro-acupuncture (electrical stimulation of the needles is added) at 10Hz, electro-acupuncture at 20 Hz or a control group (where no treatment was given).Treatment was provided before bed at 8 pm. The manual acupuncture and 10 Hz electro-acupuncture groups showed significant improvements in compared with the other two groups. Treatment resulted in a reduction of the number “nocturnal respiratory events” (which basically means the number of times an individual would temporarily stop breathing due to apnoea).
Acupunct Med. 2010 Sep;28(3):115-9. Epub 2010 Jun 15.
Immediate effect of acupuncture on the sleep pattern of patients with obstructive sleep apnoea.
55 children on the autism disorder spectrum were randomly assigned to one of two groups: electroacupuncture or “sham” acupuncture (where needles or inserted, but not in therapeutic points on the body). A total of 12 acupuncture sessions were completed over four weeks. The electro-acupuncture group showed significant improvements in language comprehension and parents reported significant improvements in social initiation, receptive language, motor skills, coordination, and attention span.
Altern Med Rev. 2010 Jul;15(2):136-46.
Randomized controlled trial of electro-acupuncture for autism spectrum disorder.
80 patients with major depressive disorder were randomized to one of two groups: acupuncture and 10 mg per day of fluoxetine (an antidepressant) or sham acupuncture plus 20 mg per day of fluoxetine. Acupuncture was done five times per week over the course of six weeks. Patients were allowed to use Zolpidem 10 mg as needed for insomnia. Group one (acupuncture group) showed significant improvements in symptoms of anxiety and anti-depressant side effects. Group one also required less medication for insomnia. Notice, also, that the amount of anti-depressant taken in group one was significantly less.
J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Aug;15(8):837-44.
Combination of acupuncture and fluoxetine for depression: a randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled trial.
Morning pain, overall pain and pressure pain threshold were significantly improved in the acupuncture treatment group compared to the control group (no treatment).
Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2009 Nov 23. [Epub ahead of print]
Acupuncture treatment for plantar fasciitis: a randomized controlled trial with six months follow-up.
Low Back Pain
84 men with non-specific low back pain (no identifiable cause) were randomized to one of four groups: baclofen 30mg per day (a pain medication), acupuncture, acupuncture plus medication or no treatment. Baclofen alone reduced pain, but pain relief plateaued by week 3 of treatment (no further improvements). Acupuncture alone significantly reduced pain and pain continued to reduce up until week 10 of treatment. Overall, the pain reduction was most significant in the baclofen plus acupuncture group.
Chin Med. 2010 Apr 24;5:15.
Reduction of chronic non-specific low back pain: a randomised controlled clinical trial on acupuncture and baclofen.
This evidence-based overview provides just a sampling of some of the conditions that may be treated effectively with acupuncture. I recommend considering this ancient therapy as an option in your health improvement plan.
Candice Esposito, ND
For Lake Superior News