Recent Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research (Apr/29/2009)

Our monthly research synopses contain select research articles from a variety of sources that are of interest to the public and practitioners of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. This month we discuss research regarding the effects of tai chi on arthritic knee pain, the role of certain acupoints in stroke rehabilitation, the use of probiotics in diarrhea treatment, dietary deficiency of vitamins A and C in asthma, and the effects of craniosacral therapy on MS symptoms.


  • Beneficial Effect of Tai Chi Qigong on Arthritis Pain (1)

This study led participants through a 36 movement Tai Chi form. Each session was conducted over a 60 minute period and participants attended twice per week for 8 weeks. At the conclusion of the study the Tai Chi group reported improvement in both quality of life and physical functioning. Previous studies have confirmed reductions in pain and quality of life for Tai Chi practitioners in addition beneficial cardiovascular effects and improvements in overall immunity.

  • The Role of Select Acupoints on Cerebral Blood Flow (2)

Acupuncture is used extensively for stroke rehabilitation. This study (performed on rats) examines a select number of acupuncture points and looks at their effect on improving cerebral blood flow. The study found that the immediate effects were limited but were significant within 72 hours after needling was performed. Of the points used (GV 26, PC 6, LU 5, SP 6, and UB 40) GV 26 and PC 6 had the strongest clinical effects.

  • Probiotics for the treatment of diarrhea (3)

A meta-analysis of recent studies looking at the effects of probiotics on the treatment and prevention of diarrhea in infants and adults. Studies have shown beneficial effects but effects which are higher or lower depending on the probiotics used and the bacterial strains causing the conditions. Generally it found probiotics to be useful for infant diarrhea and fairly limited for adult disorders except those which are antibiotic induced. The specific relationships that have been studies are as follows:

  • Prevention - Lactobacillus strain
  • Antiobiotic Associated - Saccharomyces boulardii
  • Infant Diarrhea (clostridium difficile) - Saccharomyces boulardii
  • Reduction of Symptoms - Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG
  • Dietary Deficiency of Vitamins A & C in Asthma Symptoms

A meta-analysis of research looking at the role of Vitamins A & C in asthma and wheezing symptoms. The study found that those with dietary deficiencies (i.e. low intake) of vitamins A and C were more likely to develop and/or experience asthma symptoms. Supplementation (i.e. taking vitamins) did not appear to help these conditions, whereas appropriate dietary changes which would raise levels would appear to help based on the evidence in previous studies.

  • Craniosacral Therapy Effects on MS Urinary Symptoms

Acupuncture and various other CAM therapies have been shown to have a positive effect on a variety of MS symptoms. This study look at the use of craniosacral therapy (CST) on urinary issues within MS patients. While small, the study showed significant improvements in various measures of urinary symptoms as well as improvements in quality of life issues.

Works Cited: 

(1) Clin Rehabil. 2009 Apr 23. Tai Chi Qigong for the quality of life of patients with knee osteoarthritis: a pilot, randomized, waiting list controlled trial. Lee HJ, Park HJ, Chae Y, Kim SY, Kim SN, Kim ST, Kim JH, Yin CS, Lee H. Acupuncture and Meridian Science Research Center (AMSRC), Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Korea.

(2) Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2009 Mar;29(3):213-6. Effects of acupuncture at different acupoints on cerebral blood flow in cerebral ischemia model rats (Chinese). Qian YF, Fan XN, Li YJ, Zhang YN, Wei YY, Zhang X, Wu HQ, Wang S, Shi XM. Tianjin University of TCM, Tianjin 300193, China.

(3) Probiotics as Prevention and Treatment for Diarrhea. Alfredo Guarino, Andrea Lo Vecchio, Roberto Berni Canani, Department of Pediatrics, University of Naples 'Federico II', Naples, Italy.

(4) Diet Low in Vitamins A and C Linked to Asthma and Wheeze. Laurie Barclay, MD. Thorax. Published online April 16, 2009.

(5) Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2009 May;15(2):72-5. Epub 2009 Jan 30. Effect of craniosacral therapy on lower urinary tract signs and symptoms in multiple sclerosis. Raviv G, Shefi S, Nizani D, Achiron A. Urology Department, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel.