Herbs and Helpers ®

Herbal Services and Solutions | Herbalist | Supplier | Herbs

   Jul 23

How acupuncture ‘really can ease pain’

New study claims acupuncture may ‘reduce stress, pain and depression’

Ancient Chinese art involves inserting thin needles in different body parts

Ladan Eshkevari gave treatment to rats which had been exposed to cold

Levels of stress hormones only fell in animals given proper acupuncture

Fans of acupuncture may have a point – as research suggests the treatment really can reduce pain.

A new US study of the ancient Chinese art – which involves inserting thin needles in different parts of the body – has been described as the strongest evidence yet that it can have genuine benefits.

Study author Ladan Eshkevari claimed the research demonstrates how acupuncture may ‘reduce stress and pain, and potentially depression’.

A new US study has found that acupuncture may ‘reduce stress and pain, and potentially depression’

Dr Eshkevari, of Georgetown University in Washington, DC, said: ‘The benefits of acupuncture are well known by those who use it, but such proof is anecdotal.

‘This research, the culmination of a number of studies, demonstrates how acupuncture might work in the human body to reduce stress and pain, and potentially, depression.’

Her work will provide a sense of vindication for those who have spent hundreds of pounds on acupuncture for bad backs, sprained ankles and other aches and pains.

However, the study is likely to be picked over by those who say the benefits of acupuncture are all in the mind.

Critics argue that patients benefit from the ‘placebo effect’, in which care, attention and the simple belief that the treatment will work lead to improvements in health.

Dr Eshkevari looked at the effect of giving of giving acupuncture to rats that had regularly been exposed to extreme cold.

This was meant to mimic the sort of biological changes that occur in people who are grieving or experiencing other extreme and ongoing mental pressure.

During these times, stress hormones rise, raising the odds of a host of health problems, including high blood pressure and depression.

Some of the rats were jabbed in a part of the stomach the Chinese believe to have powerful healing powers. Others had the needle stuck elsewhere or were not treated at all.

The Ancient Chinese art involves inserting thin needles in different parts of the body

Levels of stress hormones only fell in the animals given proper acupuncture, the journal Endocrinology reports.

Further tests showed that the creatures jabbed in the stomach also showed fewer signs of depression and anxiety.

Dr Eshkevari, a physiologist and practising acupuncturist, did not look at the animals’ pain levels, however, because pain and stress are closely linked, she believes pain may have been eased too.

She now wants to do a similar trial in people, with the aim of helping soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The expert admits that her study does not shed light on other uses of the technique, including using the technique as an aid to quitting smoking.

But she says evidence that acupuncture does this is weak anyway. However, the proof that it helps with pain is a lot stronger.

Dr Eshkevari concluded: ‘This work provides a framework for future clinical studies on the benefit of acupuncture, both before or during chronic stressful events.’

But David Colquhoun, professor of pharmacology at University College London, poured cold water on the research.

He said: ‘There have been over 3,000 trials of acupuncture, some of them very well designed. Yet still there is no agreement that it works.

‘If it had been a drug, it would have been thrown out years ago.

‘It’s been shown repeatedly that acupuncture points are a myth: it doesn’t make any difference where needles are pushed into you.’

Professor Colquhoun said that the research had involved on a particular type of acupuncture called electroacupunture and added: ‘Worst of all, this study isn’t on man, but on rats.

‘Studies of pain reduction and stress on rats rarely predict what will happen in humans.

‘In any case most of the effects are quite small, and statistically dubious.’

Source: Daily Mail

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.