Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, and other associated symptoms/syndromes are commonly seen clinical in acupuncture practices around the world. Generally speaking they are treatable conditions with good clinical results, yet the underlying mechanisms of aid are not well understood. Furthermore there are a host of acupuncture treatment protocols and associated Chinese Medicine techniques used so an idea of how quickly cases should resolve and what techniques lead to the best results is not clear.
To help understand the acupuncture treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), researchers from Guang’anmen Hospital within the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in Beijing recently conducted a study looking at the use of back shu acupuncture points in the treatment of CFS.
Researchers recruited 120 CFS patients and randomized then into acupuncture treatment and control groups. The treatment involved bilateral needling at UB 15 (heart shu), UB 20 (spleen shu) and UB 43 (gao huang “vital region” shu, useful for chronic illness). Treatment was offered daily (M-F) for 4 weeks. The control group received sham acupuncture during this time. To evaluate treatment effectiveness the SF-20 health scale and the Chalder fatigue scale were used. A follow up survey 3 months following the last date of treatment was offered.
Within the treatment group the Chalder fatigue scale (CFS symptoms scale) showed 64.4% of patients showed improvement at the end of the study (compared with 36.7% within control) and then 3 months later 62.3% were still improved vs. 32% in the control. Researchers conclude that back shu points led to good short-term and mid-term clinical effect.
As acupuncturists we would tailor the points more directly to each patients individual tcm diagnosis and use more points. We can assume as we see this clinically that the results were be even more consistent.