23. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Cardiac, Heart Disease, Tai Chi Chuan

Tai chi training can improve renal and cardiac functions in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Chinese researchers randomly divided 21 patients with CKD and CVD into exercise and control groups. The exercise group performed tai chi for 30 minutes, three to five times a week for 12 weeks, while the control group did not. Patients’ renal and cardiac functions and blood lipid parameters were measured at baseline and after 12 weeks. After 12 weeks of tai chi, increases were observed in the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR, a marker of kidney function), left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF, a marker of heart function) and in serum levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL, ‘good’ cholesterol) level. Decreases were seen in heart rate (HR), systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and in serum levels of creatinine (Scr), total cholesterol (CH), triglycerides (TG) and low density lipoprotein (LDL, ‘bad’ cholesterol). The change in eGFR correlated negatively with the changes in CH, TG and LDL, and positively with the change in HDL. In addition, the change in SBP correlated positively with the changes in CH, TG and LDL, and negatively with the change in HDL. The authors conclude that tai chi training may improve renal and cardiac functions in CKD and CVD patients via improved regulation of lipid metabolism. (The effects of tai chi on the renal and cardiac functions of patients with chronic kidney and cardiovascular diseases. J Phys Ther Sci. 2014 Nov;26(11):1733-6).

23. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Osteoarthritis, Tai Chi Chuan

A 12-week balance training program combining tai chi and strength training (TCST) can effectively improve balance and aerobic capacity in patients with end-stage osteoarthritis who are awaiting hip surgery. A total of 81 patients aged from 60 to 69 years old were randomly divided into two groups: a training group (TG) and a control group (CG). Participants in TG performed TCST at home under their family’s supervision for 12 weeks. After 12 weeks of training, the mean distance travelled in a six-minute walk was found to have increased from 409 metres to 478 metres in the TG, and the mean ‘Timed Up and Go’ test score had also significantly improved from 18.53 to 14.61. Self-reported functional status scores were also reported to have improved from 40.97 to 36.28, although there were no significant changes in pain or hip motion scores, meaning that hip surgery was still necessary. (A randomized controlled trial: Preoperative home-based combined Tai Chi and Strength Training (TCST) to improve balance and aerobic capacity in patients with total hip arthroplasty (THA). Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2014 Dec 13. pii: S0167-4943(14)00221-0).

23. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Tai Chi Chuan

Taiwanese researchers have discovered that tai chi may exert some of its anti-ageing health benefits by increasing stem cell populations. In their retrospective cross-sectional study, 32 young adult participants were selected out of a possible 60 based on a survey, and separated into three groups: a tai chi (TC) group (practising for more than 1 year), a brisk walking (BW), (practising for more than 1 year), and a control group that did no exercise at all (NE). Peripheral blood of the participants was examined for the presence of the CD34(–) marker, which is indicative of the presence of primitive hematopoietic and endothelial progenitor cells. Participants in the TC and BW groups were found to have significantly more CD34(+) progenitor cells in their blood than those in the NE group. No significant difference was found between the TC group and the BW group. (Tai Chi intervention increases progenitor CD34(+) cells in young adults. Cell Transplant. 2014;23(4-5):613-20).

A pilot study from the UK suggests that Chinese medicine treatment is beneficial for menopausal symptoms. In a case series design, 117 perimenopausal women were treated for menopausal symptoms by six experienced practitioners of Chinese medicine. The practitioners were instructed to treat as closely to their usual practice style as possible, using Chinese herbal medicine and / or acupuncture along with dietary and lifestyle advice. A maximum of 12 treatments over six months was allowed per patient. Patients showed significant improvement across all domains measured by two menopause symptom scales. Reduction on the MenQoL scale between first and last visit was from 4.31 to 3.27 and on the Green climacteric scale from 21.01 to 13.00. Liver and kidney function tests showed no abnormal liver or kidney function during the course of the study (Chinese medicine treatment for menopausal symptoms in the UK health service: Is a clinical trial warranted? Maturitas. 2014 Nov 20. pii: S0378-5122(14)00354-5).

23. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Acupuncture, Parkinsons Disease

Accumulating evidence demonstrates that acupuncture has an antioxidant effect, and can prevent oxidative stress which causes pathophysiological changes involved in various disease processes. A review by Chinese authors outlines how acupuncture can prevent oxidative damage and improve antioxidant defences via the redox system, antioxidant system, anti-inflammatory system, nervous system and other signalling pathways. This may explain the mechanism of acupuncture’s effect on diseases including vascular dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease (PD) and hypertension. (Acupuncture mechanism and redox equilibrium. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:483294).


23. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Acupuncture

Using four needles may be superior to two needles in generating rapid pain relief with acupuncture, according to British investigators. Forty-two healthy participants were randomised into three groups: a four-needle group (verum acupuncture at Hegu L.I.-4, Quchi L.I.­11, Shousanli L.I.-10 and Waiguan SJ-5), a two-needle group (verum acupuncture at Hegu L.I.-4 and Quchi L.I.-11, mock acupuncture at Shousanli L.I.-10 and Waiguan SJ-5) and a mock acupuncture group (mock acupuncture at Hegu L.I.-4, Quchi L.I.-11, Shousanli L.I.-10 and Waiguan ST-5). Experimentally-induced heat pain intensity measured on a visual analogue scale (VAS) during and after the intervention was lower than pre-intervention, but there were no statistically significant differences in this change between groups. There were no statistically significant differences between groups in the time taken for pain intensity to decrease by 33% from pre-intervention. However, a 33% decrease in pain intensity within threeminutes of needle insertion was observed for 92.9% of participants in the four-needle group, compared with 66.7% of participants in the two-needle group and 57.1% in the mock acupuncture group. There was also less variance in VAS in the four-needle group, suggesting more consistency in the hypoalgesic response when using more needles. (Investigation into the effects of using two or four acupuncture needles with bidirectional rotation on experimentally-induced contact heat pain in healthy subjects. Acupunct Med. 2014 Oct 16. pii: acupmed-2014-010617).

23. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Acupuncture

The context in which a needle is inserted into the body makes a difference to how it affects the brain. An international research team investigated brain responses to the act of inserting needles into the body in two different contexts; treatment and stimulation. Twenty-four participants were randomly divided into two groups: an acupuncture treatment (AT) group and an acupuncture stimulation (AS) group. Each participant received three different types of stimuli, consisting of tactile, acupuncture and pain stimuli, and was given behavioural assessments during fMRI scanning. Although the applied stimuli were physically identical in both groups, the verbal instructions differed: participants in the AS group were primed to consider the acupuncture as a painful stimulus, whereas the participants in the AT group were told that the acupuncture was part of a therapeutic treatment. The results showed that inserting needles into the body in the context of treatment was shown to activate reward circuits in the brain and to be able to modulate subsequent pain responses in the pain matrix. Acupuncture yielded greater brain activation in reward-related brain areas of the brain in the AT group, compared with the AS group. Brain activation in response to subsequent pain stimuli was significantly reduced after prior acupuncture needle stimulation in the AT group, but not in the AS group. (When pain is not only pain: Inserting needles into the body evokes distinct reward-related brain responses in the context of a treatment. Physiol Behay. 2014 Dec 17. pii: S0031-9384(14)00653-2).

23. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Acupuncture, Heart Rate

Chinese scientists have shown that acupuncture at Shenmen HE-7 can affect cardiac autonomic neural regulation in healthy subjects. One hundred and twenty subjects were divided into four groups and received four different interventions: verum acupuncture at Shenmen HE-7; non-penetrating sham acupuncture at Shenmen HE-7; verum acupuncture at a sham point; and no acupuncture. Heart rate variability (HRV), which is a measure of the balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic mediators of heart rate, was recorded 10 minutes before, during and after each intervention. The results showed that, compared with sham needling and no acupuncture controls, verum acupuncture at Shenmen HE-7 increased HRV, most likely via stimulation of the the parasympathetic nervous system. (Effect of acupuncture at HT7 on heart rate variability: an exploratory study. Acupunct Med. 2014 Dec 4. pii: acupmed-2013-010441).

23. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Acupuncture, Anxiety

Authors of a Korean meta-analysis have concluded that acupuncture therapy aimed at reducing preoperative anxiety has a statistically significant effect relative to placebo. Fourteen papers (involving 1,034 subjects) were included in the analysis. Six publications, using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-State (STAI-S), reported that acupuncture interventions led to a greater reductions in preoperative anxiety relative to sham acupuncture. A further eight publications that employed visual analogue scales (VAS) indicated significant differences in preoperative anxiety amelioration between acupuncture and sham acupuncture. (Efficacy of acupuncture in reducing preoperative anxiety: a meta-analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:850367).

23. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Acupuncture, COPD, Dyspnoea

An Australian systematic review concludes that acupuncture may result in clinically important improvements in QoL and dyspnoea in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Sixteen RCTs that examined the benefits of acupuncture or other related therapies for the treatment of COPD were included in the review. The research team found that the acupuncture therapies used in these studies improved health-related QoL. Compared with placebo, acupuncture was also found to improve disease-related health status, dyspnoea scores and distance walked in six minutes. However, no benefit was seen on measures of lung function when acupuncture therapies were compared with either placebo or drug therapy (Acupuncture therapies for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a systematic review of randomized, controlled trials. Altern Ther Health Med. 2014 Nov;20(6):10-23).