07. January 2016 · Comments Off · Categories: Acupuncture, Blood Pressure

A group of American researchers have found that electro-acupuncture (EA) has a significant and long-lasting blood pressure–lowering effect in hypertensive patients with chronically elevated blood pressure (BP). Sixty-five patients with mild to moderate hypertension not receiving medication were randomly assigned to one of two acupuncture interventions. They were treated once weekly for eight weeks with 30-minutes of EA at either a set of active treatment acupoints (Jianshi P-5 – Neiguan P-6, plus Zusanli ST-36 – Shangjuxu ST-37) or a set of control acupoints (Pianli L.I.-6 – Wenliu L.I.-7, plus Guangming GB-37- Xuanzhong GB-39). Patients were assessed with 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring. After eight weeks of treatment, 70% of patients in the treatment group were found to have achieved a significant decrease in peak and average systolic and diastolic BP – an average of 6 to 8 mmHg for systolic blood pressure and 4 mmHg for diastolic blood pressure. These improvements persisted for a month and a half. In the treatment group plasma levels of noradrenalin (which constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure and blood glucose levels) – which were initially elevated – were shown to have decreased by 41%. Plasma levels of renin (an enzyme produced in the kidneys that helps control blood pressure) also fell by 67%, while levels of aldosterone (a hormone that regulates electrolytes) declined by 22%. No consequential blood pressure changes were found in the group who received electro-acupuncture at the control acupoints. Although the blood pressure reductions in the active treatment group were relatively small, they were clinically meaningful, and the authors not that the technique could be especially useful in treating systolic hypertension in patients over 60. Since EA was demonstrated to decrease both peak and average systolic blood pressure over 24 hours, the researchers concluded that it may help decrease the risk for stroke, peripheral artery disease, heart failure and myocardial infarction in hypertensive patients.
Long-Lasting Reduction of Blood Pressure by Electroacupuncture in Patients with Hypertension: Randomized Controlled Trial. Medical Acupuncture, 2015 Aug 18; 27(4): 253.

07. January 2016 · Comments Off · Categories: Acupuncture, Cancer

A retrospective study was carried out using data from 50 patients having acupuncture in a group setting at an integrative oncology programme. At the time of their fourth treatment, participants were found to have significantly less pain, numbness and digestive problems compared with baseline.

Evaluation of Group Acupuncture for Cancer-Related Symptoms: A Retrospective Analysis. J Palliat Med. 2015 Jul 28. [Epub ahead of print].

07. January 2016 · Comments Off · Categories: Acupuncture, Cancer, Pain

Acupuncture appears to be effective for reducing pain and other symptoms in cancer patients, according to an open clinical trial carried out by clinicians in the USA. Fifty-seven cancer patients who reported significant pain levels were seen in an open treatment program. A semi-structured acupuncture protocol was designed to target pain, as well as anxiety, depression, fatigue and nausea. Twenty-five patients were considered to have completed treatment after receiving nine or more acupuncture sessions of acupuncture. Pain severity was found to decrease by 32% from baseline to the last session, and pain interference with daily living decreased by 40%. Symptoms of pain, nausea and fatigue decreased by 50%, while anxiety dropped by 44%. All changes in symptom scores except for nausea were found to be significant.
Acupuncture for Cancer-Related Pain: An Open Clinical Trial. Medical Acupuncture. June 2015, 27(3): 188-193.

07. January 2016 · Comments Off · Categories: Acupuncture, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Hot Flushes

Researchers from the USA suggest that electro-acupuncture (EA) may be more effective, and result in fewer adverse effects, than the drug gabapentin (GP) for managing hot flushes in breast cancer survivors. They conducted a randomised controlled trial involving 120 survivors of breast cancer who were experiencing hot flushes at least twice per day. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups. The EA group received eight weeks of EA treatment, the drug therapy group received GP once per day, the placebo acupuncture group received sham acupuncture (SA) and the final group received placebo pills (PP). By week eight, comparing all groups, the mean reduction in hot flush scores was found to be greatest in the EA group (-7.4), followed by SA (-5.9), GP (-5.2 ) and PP (-3.4). In addition, the two pill groups reported significantly more treatment-related adverse events than the two acupuncture groups. At 24-week follow-up, hot flush symptom score reduction was still greatest in the EA group.
Electroacupuncture Versus Gabapentin for Hot Flashes Among Breast Cancer Survivors: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. J Clin Oncol. 2015 Aug 24. pii: JCO.2015.60.9412.

07. January 2016 · Comments Off · Categories: Acupuncture, Allergies, Hayfever

The evidence supporting the use of acupuncture as an effective treatment for allergic rhinitis continues to mount. An Australian study randomly allocated 175 patients diagnosed with seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR) to receive either real acupuncture (RA) or sham acupuncture (SA), consisting of 12 acupuncture sessions over four weeks during the pollen season. RA was delivered manually, whereas SA involved superficial needling at non-acupoints without additional stimulation. RA was found to be significantly better than SA for decreasing SAR symptom severity (sneezing and itchiness) at the end of treatment and improving participants’ quality of life at the end of the treatment and follow-up phases.
Acupuncture for seasonal allergic rhinitis: a randomized controlled trial. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2015 Jun 11. pii: S1081-1206(15)00342-7.

A pilot study carried out with 30 SAR patients in Germany suggests that, compared with matched healthy controls, SAR patients show altered cardiovascular autonomic function at baseline, which can be partially normalised by acupuncture treatment.
Autonomic Function in Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis and Acupuncture – an Experimental Pilot Study within a Randomized Trial. Forsch Komplementmed. 2015;22(2):85-92. Epub 2015 Mar 20.

Meanwhile, the various mediators, receptors and signalling pathways associated with the anti-inflammatory and anti-hyperalgesic effects of acupuncture, and which may influence its mechanism of action in allergic rhinitis, have been reviewed by another group of Australian authors. These include down-regulation of pro-inflammatory neuropeptides, cytokines and neurotrophins, activation of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway and proliferation of opioid-containing macrophages in inflamed tissues.
Mediators, Receptors, and Signalling Pathways in the Anti-Inflammatory and Antihyperalgesic Effects of Acupuncture. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:975632. Epub 2015 Aug 3.

07. January 2016 · Comments Off · Categories: Uncategorised

An Australian team has discovered that smell and taste receptors normally found in the nose and mouth are also present in heart tissue. The researchers observed these receptors while investigating genes that regulate the growth of the heart, both under normal circumstances and in disease. The work was carried out in mice and repeated in human heart tissue. Twelve different types of taste receptors were found to be expressed in human heart tissue, although those responding to bitter compounds were most prevalent. ‘This is quite remarkable, as the human genome only has 25 of these bitter taste receptors, and we wanted to find out why half of them were located in the heart’, remarked research team leader, Professor Walter Thomas. ‘When we activated one of the taste receptors with a specific chemical that we all taste as bitter, the contractile function of the heart was almost completely inhibited. While the underlying physiology behind this phenomenon remains unclear, this is now a major area of ongoing investigation’. The finding will perhaps not be too surprising to practitioners of Chinese medicine, since the bitter taste is traditionally said to have a special affinity for the Heart. (Researchers find bitter taste receptors on human hearts. http: / / medicalxpress. com / news / 2015-05-bitter-receptors­human-hearts.html Bitter taste receptor agonists elicit G-protein-dependent negative inotropy in the murine heart. FASEB J. 2014 Oct;28(10):4497-508).

07. January 2016 · Comments Off · Categories: Chanting, Chinese Herbal Medicine

Indian researchers have confirmed that listening to the sound of the mantra ‘Om’ activates areas of the brain involved in generating feelings of empathy, and relaxes parts of the brain used in everyday cognition. The sound of Om (or Aum) is of Hindu origin, and is also used in Buddhist and Jain chanting practices. The study used fMRI scanners to monitor the brain activity of 21 men. Three sound conditions were compared: Om, a similar non-meaningful sound (the sound ‘Tom’) and a meaningful sound (the Hindi word Aam). The results revealed that, compared with the other sounds, listening to the sound Om specifically recruits neural systems and activates brain areas (bilateral cerebellum, left middle frontal gyros and right precuneus) that are implicated in emotional empathy. (Neuro­cognitive aspects of “OM” sound/syllable perception: A functional neuroimaging study. Cogn Emot. 2015;29(3):432-41).