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Home > Newsletters > April 2004 >

Recent Research

Scientist Questions Acupuncture’s Traditional Origin

Acupuncture May Help Anxious Insomniacs Relax

  Needling Increases Blood Flow in Fibromyalgia Patients

Norwegian Oncologists Have More Positive View of Complementary Medicine Than Alternative Medicine

Scientist Questions Acupuncture’s Traditional Origin

Acupuncture is based on the theory of channels, which serve as pathways for qi energy. On the course of the channels, acupuncture points are described, and by stimulating these points practitioners may achieve therapeutic effects. This system is very complex as both channels and acupuncture points are anatomically invisible.

Unlike in Western medicine, scientists cannot trace both the origin and the progress of acupuncture theory. Having developed in its full form not later than the 2nd century BC, it never underwent fundamental change. On the other hand, it has become a part of modern Western medicine as an effective therapy and the existence of acupuncture points, specified thousands of years ago, has been demonstrated by modern science.

It is hardly probable that acupuncture theory, though dating back to ancient times, could have originated in primitive civilization. The origin of the energy channel theory does not fit into the traditional developmental scheme. The existence of the theory cannot be explained other than by its being a product of a highly developed civilization.

Wolfson V. The puzzle of acupuncture. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine 31(6):983-90.

Acupuncture May Help Anxious Insomniacs Relax

The authors assessed the response to acupuncture of 18 anxious adult subjects who complained of insomnia in an open prepost clinical trial study. After five weeks acupuncture treatment they found a significant nocturnal increase in endogenous melatonin secretion and significant improvements in polysomnographic measures of sleep onset latency, arousal index, total sleep time and sleep efficiency. They also found significant reductions in state and trait Anxiety scores. These objective findings are consistent with clinical reports of acupuncture's relaxant effects. Acupuncture treatment may be of value for some categories of anxious patients with insomnia.

Spence DW, et al. Acupuncture increases nocturnal melatonin secretion and reduces insomnia and Anxiety: a preliminary report. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 16(1):19-28.

Needling Increases Blood Flow in Fibromyalgia Patients

Acupuncture has become a widely used treatment modality in various musculoskeletal pain conditions. Acupuncture is also shown to enhance blood flow and recovery in surgical flaps due to certain substances released by needle stimulation. In a previous study on healthy subjects, researchers found that stimulation into the anterior tibial muscle increased both skin and muscle blood flow. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of needle stimulation on local blood flow in the anterior tibial muscle and overlying skin in patients suffering from a widespread chronic pain condition.

Fifteen patients with fibromyalgia participated in the study. The authors performed two modes of needling -- deep muscle stimulation and subcutaneous needle insertion -- at the upper anterior aspect of the tibia, and assessed the resulting blood flow.

The results of the present study were partly similar to those earlier found at a corresponding site in healthy female subjects. However, in fibromyalgia patients subcutaneous needle insertion was followed by a significant increase in both skin and muscle blood flow, in contrast to findings in healthy subjects where no significant blood flow increase was found following the subcutaneous needling. The different results of subcutaneous needling between the groups may be related to a greater sensitivity to pain and other somatosensory input in fibromyalgia.

Sandberg M, et al. Peripheral effects of needle stimulation (acupuncture) on skin and muscle blood flow in fibromyalgia. European Journal of Pain 8(2):163-71.

Norwegian Oncologists Have More Positive View of Complementary Medicine Than Alternative Medicine

This study reports on oncology professionals' knowledge and attitude toward complementary and alternative medicines (CAM), classified according to their primary application as complementary or alternative methods. In June 2002, the authors conducted a national, multicentre survey of 828 Norwegian oncologists, nurses, clerks and therapeutic radiographers. A response rate of 61% was achieved.

Only a few physicians (4%) described their reactions to alternative medicine as positive compared with nurses (33%), therapeutic radiographers (32%) and clerks (55%). Females showed a more positive view than males (33% versus 14%). More participants expressed a positive attitude to complementary versus alternative medicines.

Most respondents regarded healing by hand or prayer, homeopathy, and Iscador (mistletoe) as alternative therapies. In contrast, most respondents classified acupuncture, meditation, reflexology, music/art-therapy, aromatherapy and massage as complementary therapies. This survey demonstrates major differences, by gender as well as oncology health profession in views about and the classification of various CAM methods.

Risberg T, et al. Knowledge of and attitudes toward complementary and alternative therapies; a national multicentre study of oncology professionals in Norway. European Journal of Cancer 40(4):529-35.

This Month's Articles

April 2004
Volume 2, Number 3

Pros and Cons  of the Ephedra Ban

Classical Chinese Ophthalmology

Recent Research

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