Acupuncture Associates

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February 2007

In Tibetan Medicine, pulse diagnosis is an important examination


The longest and largest randomized, controlled phase III clinical trial of acupuncture ever conducted has found that acupuncture can significantly improve the symptoms of arthritis of the knee.

The study of 570 patients was carried out at the University of Maryland School of medicine. The patients were randomly assigned to receive 23 treatments of either true or sham (no actual insertion of needles) acupuncture or a 12-week knee osteoarthritis education course.

At the end of the study, the true acupuncture group had the greatest reduction (40%) in knee pain and the greatest improvement (nearly 40%) in knee function. The study as funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), both components of the US National Institutes of Health.

“For the first time, a clinical trial with sufficient rigor, size, and duration has shown that acupuncture reduces the pain and functional impairment of osteoarthritis of the knee,” said Stephen E. Straus, NCCAM Director. “These results also indicate that acupuncture can serve as an effective addition to a standard regimen of care and improve quality of life for knee osteoarthritis sufferers. (Ann Intern Med,Dec 2004; 141: 901-910.)


In a separate Spanish study of the potential benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of knee Osteoarthritis, 97 patients were randomly assigned to receive either acupuncture plus diclofenac, or placebo acupuncture plus diclofenac.

The true acupuncture consisted of needling (followed by electroacupuncture at the local points) at Yanglingquan GB-34, Yinlingquan SP-9, Xiyan (MN-LE-16), Zusanli ST-36, Taixi KID-3, Sanyinjiao SP-6, Hegu L.I.-4 and Fenglong ST-40 all with deqi).

The placebo acupuncture was administered using retractable needles (with adhesive cylinders) at the same points, and sham electroacupuncture was also given. Both groups received twelve weekly treatments.

At the end of the study, the true acupuncture group had a greater reduction in pain and stiffness, improved physical functioning, and an improved quality of life. (BMJ 2004;329:1216).


This very large German study compared the effects of fifteen acupuncture treatments over three months with no acupuncture in the treatment of chronic neck pain (longer than six months).

1753 patients were randomly allocated to receive acupuncture and 1698 to the non-acupuncture control group, and a further 10,395 patients rejected randomization and elected to receive acupuncture.

At the end of the three-month treatment period, chronic pain and disability scores and quality of life scores improved significantly in both acupuncture groups compared to controls, with no significant differences between the randomized and non-randomized acupuncture groups. (11th AnnualSymposium on Complementary Health Care 2004).


This German study compared the number of days of moderate headache experienced by two groups of chronic headache sufferers, one after 4 weeks of Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture treatment at a Chinese medicine hospital in Kotzting Germany, and the other assigned to a non-treatment waiting group.

Fifty-two percent of patients in the treatment group experienced a greater than 50% reduction in headache days, compared to 16% in the waiting group.

Patients with migraine and tension-type headache improved more than patients with other chronic headaches. (Complementary Therapies in Medicine (2004) 12, 71-78).


Another large German study similarly compared the effects of randomly assigned acupuncture, self selected acupuncture and non-acupuncture controls on chronic migraine and tension headache in a total of 15,056 patients.

After three months of treatment (fifteen sessions) the frequency of headache days reduced significantly and quality of life scores improved significantly between the acupuncture and control groups. There was no significant difference in improvement scores between the migraine and tension headache patients. (11th Annual Symposiumon Complementary Health Care 2004).


This Japanese study treated ten men suffering from chronic pelvic pain syndrome (eight of whom had previously received  pharmacological medicines without benefit) at a single acupuncture point, Zhongliao BL-33, with the needle retained for ten minutes while being rotated manually. Treatment was given weekly for five weeks.

At the end of the treatment period, there was significant improvement in chronic prostatitis symptoms and quality of life scores, and intrapelvic venous congestion was significantly improved in four of the patients. (Int J Urol 2004; 11:607-12).



A German study reported June 2002 showed that adding IVF to the treatment protocol of patients receiving IVF increased their chances of becoming pregnant by 50%.

Now a further study carried out at the Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Centre in Colorado Springs, USA, has compared the pregnancy rates of 114 women, half of whom received acupuncture before and after embryo transfer, whilst the other half underwent transfer without acupuncture (control group).

The acupuncture group obtained a 51% pregnancy rate and an 8% miscarriage rate compared to 36% and 20% respectively in the control group. Acupuncture also was found to reduce the risk of tubal pregnancy and increase the live birth rate. (October 2004 meeting of the American Society forReproductive Medicine).


In this study, 286 women were randomly assigned to receive either electroacupuncture plus para-cervical block or alfentanil (a powerful analgesic) plus paracervical block during oocyte aspiration (egg retrieval).

Both interventions induced adequate analgesia, however, the electroacupuncture group reported significantly less abdominal pain, other pain, nausea and stress than the medication group, and required significantly less additional analgesic medication. (Hum Reprod 2003;18: 1454-60).


A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of acupuncture for the treatment of childhood persistent allergic rhinitis was carried out at a Hong Kong hospital. Patients attending the pediatric outpatient department were randomly assigned to receive either true or sham acupuncture, administered twice a week for eight weeks.

There were significantly lower daily rhinitis scores and more symptom-free days for the group receiving true acupuncture, during both the treatment and follow-up periods. The visual analog scale scores for immediate improvement after acupuncture were also significantly better for the active acupuncture group.

There was no significant difference in daily relief medication scores, blood eosinophil counts, serum IgE levels and nasal eosinophil counts.

The authors conclude that “active acupuncture was more effective than sham acupuncture in decreasing the symptom scores for persistent allergic rhinitis and increasing the symptom-free days. No serious adverse effect was identified. A large-scale study is required to confirm the safety of acupuncture for children”. (Pediatrics. 2004 Nov;114(5):1242-7).


Women who received electro-stimulation of the Neiguan P-6 point experienced less post-operative nausea and vomiting (PONV) and reported less pain and greater overall satisfaction at 2 and 24 hours after surgery than those who were given ondansetron, the leading medication for PONV.

Two hours after surgery, 77% of the women who had received acupuncture reported no PONV, compared to 64% who received Zofran, and 42% who received neither. At 24 hours the figures were 73%, 52% and 38% respectively. (Anesth Analg 2004 99: 1070-1075).


In this innovative Japanese study, the health expenses of two companies whose employees engaged in similar physical labor were compared. In one company around half the employees received a total of eight acupuncture treatments, once a week, for neck/shoulder, knee and lumbar pain.

In the second company, used as a control, none of the employees received acupuncture.

After acupuncture, the pain in 83% of neck/shoulder cases, 88% of knee cases and 77% of lumbar cases was reduced by more than 50%, there was a significant decrease in tension, depression, anger, fatigue and mental confusion scores, the number of visits to conventional hospitals decreased by around 50% and average medical expenses were reduced by about 30%. (11th Annual Symposium on Complementary Health Care 2004).


An audit was carried out into the outcomes of 49 consecutive referrals made to a traditionally trained acupuncturist within a general medical practice. The referred patients had a wide variety of conditions and reported poorer health status than the average general practice patient.

After varying lengths of treatment (maximum 29 treatments) the patients overall showed significant improvements in all aspects of health status, especially energy, pain, emotional reactions, sleep and reduced social isolation at two months follow up.

Interestingly, at six months follow up, all these factors remained improved and additionally physical mobility (which had remained unchanged at two months follow up) was also improved.

The best predictors of effectiveness were the therapist’s and the patients’ expectations of success rather than the type of condition or the referring GP’s expectations. (Acupuncture in Medicine, December 2004, vol. 22(4): 214-220).


In this Swedish study, 72 pregnant women (24-37 weeks) suffering pelvic or low back pain were randomly assigned to an acupuncture group or a control group.

Traditional acupuncture points and ahshi points were needled (with deqi elicited) in individualized treatments, once or twice a week until disappearance of symptoms or delivery in the acupuncture group. Treatment was given for at least three weeks, twice weekly for the first two weeks, then once a week. The control group received no treatment.

During the study period the pain decreased in 60% of patients in the acupuncture group compared to 14% of the controls, dropping to 43% and 9% respectively at the end of the study. (Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2004; 83(3): 246-50).


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