Recent Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research (Jun/30/2009)

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 the effect of acupuncture on parkinsons, understanding mechanisms of pain control with acupuncture, acupuncture for sciatica, effectiveness of computer based smoking cessation programs, CAM practitioner responsibilities for fostering lifestyle change, and the use of CAM modalities among nurses in a clinical care setting.

  • Acupuncture Effects on Parkinsons Disease (1)

Acupuncture is used widely to aid in treatment of the underlying causes and the symptoms of parkinsons. This study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to help understand the mechanisms through which acupuncture helps parkinsons patients. With acupuncture the researchers found significant motor function improvement and correlated changes in the motor cortex of the brain with acupuncture needling on GB 34. The study helped illustrate that acupuncture used even at points far away from certain brain cortexes will create measureable effects in these areas.

  • Helping To Understand The Effect of Acupuncture on Pain (2)

This study measured changes in the subnucleus reticularis dorsalis (SRD) in rats from acupuncture stimulation. This area plays a role in processing cutaneous and visceral nociceptive inputs. Manipulation of this area can help to control pain and other issues related to SRD function. This particular study found that acupuncture at PC 6, CV 12, and ST 36 effectively activates the SRD neurons in rats. These studies help to illustrate some of the measureable activities of acupuncture outside of the Chinese theories within their usage is based.

  • Moxa on Acupuncture Needles for Sciatic Pain (3)

A relatively simple study comparing acupuncture with warming needle (moxibustion) technique to western pharmaceutical treatment options. The study found superior effect of acupuncture vs. common western medicine treatments. Acupuncture is very useful for sciatica and is generally free from side effects. This study serves to illustrate its effectiveness in pain related cases.

  • Web/Computer Based Smoking Cessation Programs Effective? (4)

This study is a meta-analysis of studies published within pubmed and other sources looking at the effectiveness of computer based smoking cessation programs. Most western physicians currently recommend a variety of medications and/or individual and group counseling similar to other drug addictions. Acupuncture is effective at curbing the psychological addiction and easing withdrawal symptoms but still patient retention problems and relapse issues remain. This analysis found that "the programs increase the smoking cessation rate about 1.5 times more than in the control group and obtain an abstinence rate at 12-month follow-up of 9.9%." This coupled with acupuncture and/or other forms of therapy may lead to increased results.

  • CAM Practitioner Responsibility for Patient Lifestyle Change (5)

As practitioners of Chinese Medicine and other Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM) we have a responsibility to foster dietary and lifestyle change in our patients. Due to the nature of our medicine and the fact that we tend to spend more time with our patients, most CAM practitioners have more time to deliver various lifestyle changes that will benefit our patients greatly over time. This analysis looked at the patient responses from these recommendations within a shiatsu setting, but the results are applicable for practitioners of all modalities.

  • Non Pharmacological Measures for Nurses To Promote Health and Healing (6)

Nurses generally have more direct patient interaction and this results in their ability to recommend various CAM modalities and/or practice them directly. This observational analysis looked at commonly used modalities (Aromotherapy, Distraction, Guided Imagery, Laughter, Massage, Music, Reiki, Heat or Cold, Meditation, Reflexology, Reposition and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) and makes recommendations for their clinical usage. It should, of course, be recommending the integration of CAM professionals fully trained in these modalities into a hospital setting, but it is a step in the right direction. Ultimately, this study illustrates how many modalities are making their way into western medical settings.

Works Cited: 

(1) Mov Disord. 2009 Jun 16. Parsing brain activity associated with acupuncture treatment in Parkinson's diseases.  Chae Y, Lee H, Kim H, Kim CH, Chang DI, Kim KM, Park HJ. Department of Meridian and Acupoint, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

(2) Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2009 Feb;34(1):27-30. Effects of electroacupuncture of "Neiguan" (PC 6), "Zhongwan" (CV 12) and "Zusanli" (ST 36) on electrical activities of neurons subnucleus reticularis dorsalis in rats. Ji LX, Yan LP, Wang HJ, Li L, He W, Ben H, Zhu B. Department of Acu-moxibustion, Shanxi College of Chinese Medicine, Taiyuan, China.

(3) J Tradit Chin Med. 2009 Mar;29(1):50-3. The warming acupuncture for treatment of sciatica in 30 cases. Chen MR, Wang P, Cheng G, Guo X, Wei GW, Cheng XH. Hunan TCM Professional Training College, Zhuzhou 412012, China.

(4) Arch Intern Med. 2009;169:929-937. Web-based and computer-based smoking cessation programs may be effective for adult smokers.

(5) BMC Complement Altern Med. 2009 Jun 18;9(1):19. The potential of complementary and alternative medicine in promoting well-being and critical health literacy: a prospective, observational study of shiatsu.

(6) International Journal of Nursing Practice. Volume 15 Issue 3, Pages 145 - 155. Published Online: 10 Jun 2009