Tag Archives: acupuncture

Acupuncture for Depression- Part II

October 10th is World Mental Health Day, and this week is Mental Illness Awareness Week. In recognition of this our posts this week will focus on mental health topics. Today’s post will examine recently published research on the use of acupuncture for depression.

Statistics from the NIH indicate that over 17 million adults in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode, which is about 7% of all U.S. adults. The prevalence was higher in females (8.7%) than males (5.3%). An estimated 2/3rds of the adults with major depression combined treatment with medication with treatment from a healthcare professional. Interestingly, about 35% of those adults with major depression did not receive any type of treatment.

An international group of researchers completed a review and meta-analysis of the existing research of the effects of acupuncture on depression. 29 studies and nearly 2300 subjects were included in the analysis. They studied the effects of acupuncture compared to usual care, to sham or fake acupuncture, to psychologist treatment, and commonly used medications (such as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors). The studies included subjects from China, Hong Kong, Australia, the U.S. and UK.

After completing their analysis the researchers concluded that acupuncture was found to have clinically relevant benefit in reducing the severity of depression, when compared to usual care alone, to sham or fake acupuncture, and to medication alone. Importantly, the researchers also found a trend between greater acupuncture treatment frequency and reduction in the severity of depression.

As noted above over a third of those with major depression do not seek any treatment. Some of these individuals may well be trying alternative treatments. Given the results of this analysis perhaps some of those who do not currently seek treatment could benefit from acupuncture, or consideration of acupuncture as an add-on therapy to conventional treatment may offer additional help.

“The pain of severe depression is quite unimaginable to those who have not suffered it, and it kills in many instances because its anguish can no longer be borne.The prevention of many suicides will continue to be hindered until there is a general awareness of the nature of this pain.”–  William Styron

(Source- Journal of Clinical Medicine 2019, 8, 1140)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

Acupuncture for Post-Stroke Depression

October 10th is World Mental Health Day, while this week is designated Mental Illness Awareness Week, and so this week’s posts will address mental health topics. Today’s post will examine research on the use of acupuncture for post-stroke depression.

Statistics from the CDC indicate that nearly 800,000 Americans have a stroke each year. Every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke. These strokes result in nearly 140,000 deaths annually. The risk of stroke is nearly twice in blacks compared to whites. In those that survive their stroke, post-stroke depression is common, with the prevalence estimated at 29-35%.

A group of researchers from China performed a meta-analysis of existing randomized controlled trials, examining the effects of acupuncture therapy as a treatment for post-stroke depression. They included seven random controlled studies in their analysis, totaling over 500 participants. Those in the control group received medications which are often given for depression, such as citalopram and fluoxetine. The Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression was used to evaluate the degree of depression.

The researchers concluded that acupuncture therapy resulted in improved depressive symptoms in the post-stroke subjects, compared to medicine alone. It is important to note that there were no observed adverse effects from the acupuncture therapy.

Stroke is common in the U.S., and worldwide. Depression following stroke is common as well. Given the results of this study, acupuncture treatment may be worthy of consideration for treatment of post-stroke depression.

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear.”–  C.S. Lewis

(Source- Medicine (2019) 98:22)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

 

 

Acupuncture for Sexual Dysfunction

June 10-16th is designated Men’s Health Week, and so our posts this week will address men’s health issues. Today’s post will examine the use of acupuncture for sexual dysfunction, in both men and women.

Anti-depressant medication use is common, and sexual dysfunction rates may be as high as 50-90% with some of these medications. The results of a study may offer hope to those who suffer sexual side effects from commonly prescribed anti-depressant medications.

This research was conducted in Toronto, Canada. 35 subjects enrolled in the study, both men and women. Participants were referred into the study after complaining of sexual side effects from anti-depressant medications. After enrolling in the study, each subject received twelve acupuncture visits, following a fixed acupuncture treatment protocol. Subjects completed a self assessment of sexual functioning, as well as an assessment of anxiety and depression, throughout the study. There a was also a follow up visit one month after the treatment protocol was completed.

Results of the study showed significant improvement in symptoms, particularly among males. Males were also more likely to have decreases in anxiety and depression while receiving acupuncture treatment.

Interestingly, the self reported symptom severity scores one month after completion of the acupuncture treatment were similar to those at completion of the acupuncture treatment, indicating that perhaps acupuncture treatment is able to produce some longer lasting improvements in sexual function.

As with most acupuncture studies, the number of reported adverse reactions to acupuncture treatment is very low. In general the vast majority of patient’s treated with acupuncture find it a well tolerated therapy. Given how frequent sexual side effects are with commonly prescribed anti-depressant medications, perhaps consider acupuncture as a way to help with this, in both men and women.

“Prevention is better than cure.” – Desiderius Erasmus

(Source- Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Volume 19, Number 11, 2013)

This blog is a review of published medical and health literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

 

Acupuncture May Offer Hope for Alzheimer’s

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Today’s post will review a study of using acupuncture for mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, and is a degenerative brain disease. It is estimated that nearly 6 million Americans have AD. According to the CDC it is the 5th most common cause of death among adults age 65 and older. Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease include mild memory loss, and may progress to changes in mood and behavior, and difficulty with performing familiar tasks. The annual costs of AD are estimated to be $200 billion. Age is the most important risk factor for AD. Unfortunately, at this time there are no effective medical treatments to stop or reverse AD.

A research group in China performed a randomized trial, comparing the efficacy and safety of acupuncture to the medication donepezil (brand name Aricept) in a group of subjects diagnosed with mild to moderate AD. Subjects were aged 50 to 85 years. 43 individuals were assigned to the acupuncture group, while 44 were assigned to the donezepil group.

The study itself last 28 weeks- a 4 week baseline period, a 12 week treatment period, and a 12 week follow-up period. The acupuncture group received three treatments each week, lasting about 30 minutes each. The treatments were provided by 9 experienced acupuncturists, who individualized treatments to each respective subject.

There were two primary outcome measures, the ADAS-cog and the CIBIC-Plus. The ADAS-cog consists of 11 tasks to measure the symptoms of AD. The CIBIC-Plus on the other hand is a comprehensive global assessment of change in behavior, cognition and function, and requires separate interviews with the caregivers as well as the patients.

The results of the study demonstrated that acupuncture improved the participants score on the ADAS-cog and CIBIC-Plus, indicating improvement in cognitive function and global clinical status.

It is interesting that the study design used a known pharmaceutical treatment (donepezil) as the comparator group to acupuncture, rather than using sham (fake) acupuncture. There is evidence from many studies that sham acupuncture is not a true placebo, and often studies that use sham acupuncture show an elevated placebo response. It is also important to note that no one withdrew from the study due to an adverse side effect from acupuncture, which again points to the safety of this treatment.

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Dementia can be devastating to a patient, and in some ways even more so to the patient’s caregivers, which are often family members. Given the results of this study perhaps acupuncture should be given some consideration as a additional treatment for this overwhelming disease.

“I know for certain that we never lose the people we love, even to death. They continue to participate in every act, thought and decision we make. Their love leaves an indelible imprint in our memories. We find comfort in knowing our lives have been enriched by sharing their love.”– Leo Buscaglia

(Source- BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2017) 17:556)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

Acupuncture for Hypertension

May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month. Today’s post will review research on the use of acupuncture to lower blood pressure.

Hypertension is a significant health issue. Statistics from the CDC indicate that one third of American adults have hypertension, and another third fall into the pre-hypertension range. The costs of hypertension are estimated to be $50 billion annually.

A research group from China examined the possible benefits of acupuncture on hypertension. A meta-analysis was performed encompassing 23 different random controlled studies, with nearly 1800 subjects included in their analysis. Countries such as China, Germany, South Korea and the U.S. were included. Most participants had either mild, or mild to moderate hypertension.

After reviewing the data from this collection of 23 random controlled trials the study authors concluded that acupuncture when added to the existing anti-hypertensive medicine had a significant beneficial effect on lowering both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, when compared to sham (fake) acupuncture plus medicine. Acupuncture therefore showed a beneficial effect when used as an add-on treatment to standard pharmaceutical anti-hypertensive therapy.

Acupuncture has been shown to be a safe treatment, with infrequent side effects. This meta-analysis shows promise for adding on acupuncture treatments to existing anti-hypertension medications to yield additional blood pressure relief.

“First, modify the patient’s diet and lifestyle and only then, if these do not effect a cure, treat with medicinals and acupuncture.”-  Sun Simiao

(Source- PLOS ONE, July 24, 2015)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone.

 

World Asthma Day May 7th-Try Acupuncture

May 7th is World Asthma Day, and today’s post will examine the use of acupuncture as an add-on therapy for treatment of asthma for patients already using conventional treatments for asthma.

According to statistics from the CDC, nearly 8% of American adults have asthma, while slightly more than 8% of children have asthma. Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children. It is estimated that over $50 billion is spent each year on medical expenses related to asthma.

A research group from China performed a review and meta-analysis of published studies, examining the role of acupuncture as an add-on therapy to conventional treatments for asthma. Nine separate studies were included in their analysis, involving nearly 800 participants, from China, Korea, and Russia.

What the researchers discovered was that when acupuncture was added to conventional asthma treatment, acupuncture significantly improved the asthma symptom response rate, and also decreased IL-6 levels. IL-6 is a pro-inflammatory cytokine produced in the smooth muscle cells of many blood vessels.

There is a significant amount of interest in alternative health therapies among asthma sufferers, particularly in China, where acupuncture has been used for thousands of years. There remains interest in using acupuncture for asthma among health professionals as well, as there is another large study of this topic currently underway in China.

Given the promising results of this study, and the generally very good safety profile for acupuncture, perhaps adding on acupuncture to a conventional asthma treatment regimen may be worthy of consideration.

“It’s strange that words are so inadequate. Yet, like the asthmatic struggling for breath, so the lover must struggle for words.”– T.S. Eliot

(Source- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2019)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss and health concerns with your personal physician.

 

 

Acupuncture Helps With IBS

April is designated IBS Awareness Month, and in recognition of this today’s post will review a recently published study which examined acupuncture for IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).

IBS afflicts up to 12% of Americans, with women nearly twice as likely to be affected, according to data from the NIH National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Symptoms include abdominal pain and bloating. IBS is often subdivided into either a constipative variety (IBS-C) or a diarrhea predominant variety (IBS-D). The cause of IBS is not clear, but what is clear is that IBS can become quite debilitating.

Medications that are often prescribed for IBS may be minimally effective, and/or have bothersome side effects, so patients with IBS are often considering alternative therapies, including acupuncture.

An international research group including researchers from China, Hong Kong, the UK and Australia recently performed a meta-analysis of the existing research studies regarding acupuncture for IBS. They included a total of 27 random controlled trials in their analysis, encompassing over 2100 subjects, ages 18-77 years. Therapies included in the studies were acupuncture, electroacupuncture, moxibustion and Geshanxiaoyao (a Chinese herbal formula), and a combination of these. The period of follow-up of the various trials ranged from two to seven weeks.

After performing the meta-analysis researchers discovered that the combination of needle acupuncture and Geshanxiaoyao formula had the highest probability of being the best choice for improving global IBS symptoms. The sensitivity analysis indicated that moxibustion, followed by needle acupuncture plus moxibustion, had the highest probability for improving global IBS symptoms. In addition, importantly, no adverse side effects from acupuncture or the other alternative therapies was noted.

Given that many who suffer from IBS do not do well with conventional treatments or do not tolerate them, perhaps in those cases acupuncture or moxibustion should be given consideration.

“Work hard, trust in God, and keep your bowels open.”–  Oliver Cromwell

(Source- Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology, 2019, Vol. 12)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss and health concerns with your personal physician.

 

 

Acupuncture for Insomnia

Insomnia Awareness Day is Monday, March 11th. This is an appropriate designation for the day after Daylight Saving Time begins for the year. In recognition of this day, today’s post will examine the use of acupuncture for primary insomnia.

Insomnia is a common disorder among adults. It is estimated that about 30% of adults have brief periods of insomnia, and upwards of 10% of adults have chronic insomnia, lasting more than three months. It has also been estimated that greater than $60 billion is lost yearly in work production due to insomnia. Insomnia is felt to be a factor in worsening mental health disorders, as well in medical disorders such as hypertension and diabetes mellitus type II.

A recently published study looked at using a short course of acupuncture as an intervention for primary insomnia. 72 subjects with primary insomnia were randomized into either a acupuncture treatment group or a sham (fake) acupuncture group. For the acupuncture treatment group, points were used on the scalp, wrist and lower leg. For the sham acupuncture group the same points were used, but the needle tube was only tapped to give the sensation of a needle being placed. The participants wore eye masks so they could not see whether or not needles were in place.

Participants were treated three times each week, for four weeks. Each treatment session lasted thirty minutes. Questionnaires were filled out every two weeks for a total of eight weeks. The primary outcome measure was the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI). The ISI is a validated assessment tool, consisting of 7 questions, and scored on a scale of 0 (no significant insomnia) to 28 (severe insomnia). The subjects also completed self-rating anxiety and depression scales, to assess their mental health.

Results of the study showed that the Insomnia Severity Index was significantly improved after receiving acupuncture treatment. Sleep efficiency was improved in the acupuncture group beginning at two-weeks post-treatment. Also, sleep awakenings were significantly lower in the acupuncture group, beginning at four weeks post-treatment.

It also appears that acupuncture can improve mental health, as participants in both groups had lower scores on the self-rating scales for both anxiety and depression, compared to baseline scores. It is also important to note that no one withdrew from the study due to some possible adverse side effect from acupuncture.

The study authors did a good job in setting up the sham or placebo acupuncture in a way to keep it blinded to patients. It would be helpful to know how long these beneficial effects of acupuncture on insomnia last, and if there is a certain frequency or schedule that would be optimal. These may be topics of future research.

We have a seemingly low risk treatment for insomnia, that is worthy of consideration. Perhaps consider acupuncture rather than medication for insomnia next time around.

“The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.”–  W.C. Fields

(Source- Sleep Medicine 37 (2017), pp. 193-200)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

 

 

Acupuncture for Post-Operative Pain

 

As the new year begins the opioid epidemic continues to be a significant problem in the United States. Statistics from 2016-2017 provided by the Department of Health and Human Services paint a grim picture- 11.4 million people misused prescription opioids while approximately 2 million abused them for the first time.

Opioid medications are commonly used for post-operative pain, and one of the strategies considered to decrease the use of opioids is to use other drug-free interventions after surgery, in place of opioids.

A study published in 2017 looked at the use of such drug-free therapies to reduce pain after total knee arthroplasty. The research group, affiliated primarily with Stanford University and the University of Bologna (Italy) performed a meta-analysis of 39 random controlled trials, involving nearly 2400 subjects. Five different non-drug interventions were examined, including acupuncture, continuous passive motion, cryotherapy, electrotherapy, and preoperative exercise.

The researchers concluded that there was “modest but clinically significant evidence” that both acupuncture and electrotherapy could potentially reduce and delay the amount of post-operative opioid consumption.

As we look at multiple strategies to stem the tide of opioid abuse, it is encouraging to see research studies again supporting the use of alternative therapies, such as acupuncture.

 

(Source- JAMA Surgery, 2017; 152 (10))

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

Acupuncture May Help With Chronic Pain

 

One of the most significant health and social problems facing the United States in 2019 is the growing opioid crisis. Data from CDC, AHRQ, and U.S. Health and Human Services show that more than 1000 people are treated in emergency rooms each day across the U.S. for misusing prescription opioids. As many as 1 in 5 people receive prescription opioids long-term for non-cancer pain in primary care settings. Even more telling is a study that appeared in JAMA (September 17, 2017) which showed that although life expectancy in the U.S. has increased overall between 2000 and 2015, 0.21 years were lost due to opioid related deaths.

As awareness of the staggering toll of the opioid crisis increases, so does interest in medical treatments which do not involve pain medications. Acupuncture for instance is now given more consideration for treatment of different pain syndromes, rather than relying on opioid medications.

A well-designed study from 2018 looked at using acupuncture for chronic pain. A group of researchers from the Acupuncture Trialists’ Collaboration, composed of scientists from the U.S., U.K., and Europe looked specifically at acupuncture for chronic headache, musculoskeletal pain, osteoarthritis, or shoulder pain.

This research group had published a previous study in 2012 (Archives of Internal Medicine). For the 2018 meta-analysis an additional 13 studies were included (published between December 2008 and December 2015), yielding nearly 21,000 subjects from a total of 39 trials. The distribution of study participants was quite widespread, including those from Australia, China, Germany, the U.S. and U.K.

Results of the study demonstrated that acupuncture has a clinically relevant impact compared to the control group of no acupuncture. In addition, the effects of acupuncture tended to persist over at least a year-long period. Interestingly, acupuncture appeared to most effective on upper body musculoskeletal pain.

Given that acupuncture is generally thought to be a safe and well tolerated treatment, it may deserve consideration for treatment of chronic pain syndromes.

(Source- The Journal of Pain, Vol 19, No. 5, May)

This blog is a review of medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.