Tag Archives: acupuncture research

Recent Acupuncture Research In the News

By Justine Myers, Lic. Ac.

3 recent studies of cancer patients showed acupuncture to be effective in various ways. The first study showed that acupuncture reduces cancer pain and painkiller use. A second study showed that acupuncture lessens chemotherapy-induced neuropathy, and a third study showed that acupuncture reduces radiation-induced dry mouth.

Although these studies were specific to cancer patients and side-effects of cancer treatments, we’d like to elaborate on these findings. Acupuncture is helpful for all types of pain, peripheral neuropathy and dry mouth. We have first-hand experience treating these conditions in our own patients, and it would be beneficial for you and others to know about this as well.

When it comes to pain, acupuncture is effective for all types: musculoskeletal pain, arthritic pain, headaches and migraines, menstrual pain, abdominal pain, fibromyalgia, complex regional pain syndrome and more. Many of our patients try acupuncture with the goal of pain relief and many are able to reduce or eliminate the need for painkillers/over the counter pain relief medicine. Acupuncture is always worth a try for pain.

In terms of peripheral neuropathy (pain/tingling/numbness in hands/fingers and feet/toes), we have patients who have experienced a substantial reduction in severity of neuropathy related to chemotherapy and diabetes, as well as neuropathy without any specific underlying condition. Our patients are pleased when they have less discomfort and greater function (i.e. walking more easily, using their fingers/hands with fine motor skills more easily/comfortably). Although acupuncture is helpful for all types of neuropathy, we do want to point out that when there is an underlying condition such as diabetes, it is extremely important to effectively address that condition (i.e. working with a physician/dietician to ensure blood sugar levels are healthy/stable) in addition to the use of acupuncture for the neuropathy.

Finally, acupuncture is helpful for dry mouth and also for other symptoms of dryness such as dry eyes. Certain points are useful for stimulating the salivary glands and tear ducts, and for overall dryness in the body. We have seen this in patients with conditions such as blepharitis, Sjogren’s syndrome and dry mouth related to the use of medications.

We are pleased to see many cancer centers offering acupuncture for their patients to help manage their symptoms, and it is also fantastic that research is being done in these settings. Acupuncture is gaining in popularity due to its efficacy in a wide variety of health conditions.

How Acupuncture Works

People are often curious to know how acupuncture works. Many scientific studies have been done to understand the mechanisms behind acupuncture. Here we’d like to share with you links to several articles that explain the way acupuncture works in detail:

What Is Acupuncture? (and how acupuncture is said to work) from Live Science

Chinese Medicine Demystified (Part V): A Closer Look at How Acupuncture Relieves Pain by Chris Kresser

Acupuncture: Why It Works from Mercola

Does Acupuncture Work By Re-Mapping the Brain? from AEON

Community Acupuncture Research: A Report from Kathia

Kathia recently attended a conference held by The Society for Acupuncture Research. The conference usually discusses clinical research and basic research (i.e. how acupuncture works and biological mechanisms). She reported back to us with some information about what she learned, which is particularly pertinent to community acupuncture.  It’s great to see that science validates what we know from our work everyday out at Acupuncture Together.  We think you will find it interesting, too, especially if you’re into research and science!

“They just (finally) started doing some research in the context of community acupuncture with some really cool results. One of them looked at patient satisfaction with private [acupuncture treatments] vs. community [acupuncture treatments], and they were equally satisfied. Another looked at community acupuncture versus an educational group for fibromyalgia to see if it was something about the group dynamic (not the acupuncture) that made the difference. Group acupuncture improved symptoms significantly while the education group experienced no change. The same researcher is now conducting a study to compare private vs community acupuncture for fibromyalgia specifically, but they are just starting it, so it will be a while. Lastly, there was a study where they compared electro-acupuncture on points pc6-pc5 (local acupuncture), lv4-sp6 (distal acupuncture) and gb34-35 (control) for carpal tunnel. They looked primarily at changes in the somatosensory cortex. Since there is tingling and numbness in digits 1-3, the brain loses its ability to distinguish stimulation in different fingers, and the part of the brain that represents sensations in each finger gets smaller and less organized. In this study, as you may expect, both the local acupuncture and distal acupuncture caused a direct effect on the somatosensory system, improving its ability to distinguish between fingers, while the control group (estim gb34-35) experienced no change at all. Cool, huh?”

For more info on the community acupuncture study, click here:
Patient perspectives on care received at community acupuncture clinics: a qualitative thematic analysis