Scientists Seek Clues for Acupuncture's Success
Learn how acupuncture might help when Western medicine doesn't have an answer.
What Acupuncture Can Do for You continued...
In what was hailed as "the largest, longest, and most rigorous study of
acupuncture" ever conducted, acupuncture was found to reduce pain and
improve function and movement among patients with osteoarthritis of the knee
when used with other treatments.
That study paves the way for more and better research of acupuncture, Wayne
tells WebMD. "This was a landmark study not only in its finding for
osteoarthritis. It shows that if we put resources into a carefully designed
trial, we're likely to see something definitive ... we may be able to say with
more certainty that other [applications of acupuncture] are effective."
Cancer Side Effects: Nausea and vomiting -- the distressing
side effects of chemotherapy -- respond well to acupuncture. A study published
a few years ago showed that acupuncture plus antinausea medication worked
better than just medication alone. The NIH "has given us two thumbs
up," Wayne says.
Depression: A study in the late 1990s from the University
of Arizona showed that clinically depressed women responded well to a course of
acupuncture. Other preliminary studies of anxiety and depression show that
anxiety related to medical procedures can be resolved with some acupuncture at
treatment time, Wayne adds.
Stroke: Results from a study of acupuncture in treating
stroke patients are just coming in. "We've seen responses, even among
people who suffered their strokes many years ago," Wayne reports.
"Their chronic paralysis and spasticity are responding well." However,
results from other stroke studies have not always shown an effect. More
research is needed, he notes.
Pelvic Pain: A study currently underway involves
endometriosis-related pelvic pain in young women. "It's a very serious
condition in which the standard course of [drug treatment] doesn't always
work," says Wayne. "They can't go to school or do sports. The last
resort is to induce menopause in 15-year-old girls. But there's some evidence
acupuncture may help."
Infertility: Acupuncture also boosts the effectiveness of
high-tech reproductive medicine procedures. Small studies have found that
adding acupuncture to traditional in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments
increased pregnancy success. There is also evidence that acupuncture stimulates
blood flow and egg production in women who can't -- or don't want to -- use
fertility medications to help them get pregnant.