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Home > Newsletters > February 2005 >

Recent Research

Cerebral Blood Flow Effects of Pain and Acupuncture

Preventive and Curative Effects of Acupuncture on the Common Cold

Acupuncture for the Treatment of Childhood Persistent Allergic Rhinitis

A Study Comparing the Aqueous Root Extracts of Pueraria thomsonii and Pueraria lobata

The Cardiotonic Benefits of Hawthorn


Cerebral Blood Flow Effects of Pain and Acupuncture

Newberg AB, et al. Division of Nuclear Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Seven patients with chronic pain and five healthy controls participated in a study that aimed to measure the cerebral blood flow changes associated with the analgesic effect of acupuncture inpatients with chronic pain. All single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scans were acquired with a uniform protocol. The patient group was injected with the radioisotope hexamethyl propyleneamine oxime (HMPAO) while experiencing their usual level of pain. A baseline scan was acquired approximately 20 minutes after administration of the HMPAO. Afterwards, the patients were treated with acupuncture with needles placed in points specifically selected to relieve pain. When the pain improved, as determined by a 10-digit score for pain assessment, the patients were re-injected with HMPAO and imaged twenty minutes later for the acupuncture scan. The reference group also had a baseline and acupuncture scan, although the acupuncture itself was performed using a standardized set of needle points.

The reference group participants were found to have significant increases in the thalamic and prefrontal cortex activity on the acupuncture scan compared to the baseline. The baseline scans of the pain patients showed significant asymmetric uptake in the thalami compared to controls. This asymmetry reversed or normalized after the acupuncture therapy. Significant correlations were observed between the change of activity in the prefrontal cortex and ipsilateral sensorimotor area. The results from these cases show that HMPAO-SPECT is capable of detecting changes in cerebral blood flow associated with pain and that acupuncture analgesia is associated with changes in the activity of the frontal lobes, brain stem, and thalami.


Preventive and Curative Effects of Acupuncture on the Common Cold

Kawakita K, et al Japan Acupuncture and Moxibustion Center, 3-44-14 Minami otsuka, Toshima-ku, Tokyo 170-0005, Japan.

The purpose of this study was to determine the preventive and curative effects of acupuncture on the symptoms of the common cold. Staff and students of five Japanese acupuncture schools (326 people), were randomly placed in two groups: an acupuncture group and a no-treatment control group. A certain point on the neck was needled bilaterally, gently for 15 seconds until the de qi sensation was obtained. Treatments were performed four times during the 2-week experimental period with a 2-week follow-up period. A common cold diary was scored daily for 4 weeks, and a common cold questionnaire was scored before each acupuncture treatment and twice at weekly intervals. A reliability test for the questionnaire was performed on the last day of recording.

The diary score in the acupuncture group tended to decrease after treatment, but the difference between groups was not significant. Statistically significantly fewer symptoms were reported in the questionnaire by the acupuncture group than control group. No severe adverse event was reported. A significantly positive effect of acupuncture was demonstrated in the summed questionnaire data, although a highly significant inter-centre difference was observed. Needling on the neck using the Japanese fine needle manipulating technique was shown to be effective and safe. It was concluded that using acupuncture for symptoms of the common cold symptoms should be considered, although further evidence from placebo controlled RCTs is required.


Acupuncture for the Treatment of Childhood Persistent Allergic Rhinitis

Ng DK, et al. Department of Paediatrics, Kwong Wah Hospital, 25 Waterloo Rd, Kowloon, SAR, Hong Kong. dkkng@ha.org.hk

A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study was performed in order to compare acupuncture with sham acupuncture for the treatment of persistent allergic rhinitis in children. 72 children from outpatient clinics were placed in randomized groups to receive either regular acupuncture or sham acupuncture. For eight weeks, 35 patients were randomized to receive regular acupuncture and 37 patients were randomized to receive sham acupuncture. Acupuncture was performed twice per week for both groups. The outcome measures included daily rhinitis scores, symptom-free days, visual analog scale scores for immediate effects of acupuncture, daily relief medication scores, blood eosinophil counts, serum IgE levels, nasal eosinophil counts, patients' and parents' preferences for treatment modalities, and adverse effects. Both the assessing pediatricians and the patients were blinded. There were significantly lower daily rhinitis scores and more symptom-free days for the group receiving regular acupuncture, during both the treatment and the follow-up periods. The visual analog scale scores for immediate improvement after acupuncture were also significantly better for the regular acupuncture group. There was no significant difference in the following outcome measures between the regular and sham acupuncture groups: daily relief medication scores, blood eosinophil counts, serum IgE levels, and nasal eosinophil counts, except for the IgE levels before and 2 months after acupuncture in the sham acupuncture group. No severe adverse effects were encountered. Numbness, headache, and dizziness were found in both the regular and sham acupuncture groups, with no difference in incidence, and the effects were self-limiting.

In conclusion, this study demonstrated that regular acupuncture was more effective than sham acupuncture in decreasing the symptom scores for persistent allergic rhinitis and increasing the symptom-free days. Also, there were no serious adverse effects in this study. A larger study is essential to confirm the safety of acupuncture for children.


A Study Comparing the Aqueous Root Extracts of Pueraria thomsonii and Pueraria lobata

Jiang RW, et al. Department of Biochemistry and Institute of Chinese Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, PR China.

A recent study was conducted on the roots of Pueraria thomsonii and Pueraria lobata. Both are recorded in Chinese Pharmacopoeia under the same name Radix Puerariae. The study confirmed, however, that the aqueous root extract of Pueraria lobata showed more potent antioxidant activity than that of Pueraria thomsonii. A qualitative HPLC method was developed to compare the chemical profiles of Pueraria thomsonii and Pueraria lobata, which revealed four major common peaks (daidzein 1, daidzin 2, puerarin 3 and 5-hydroxypuerarin 4) and two major different peaks (3-hydroxypuerarin 5 and 3'-methoxypuerarin 6) in their chromatograms. Semi-quantitative analysis showed that the contents of 1-3 in Pueraria lobata are about three, three, and five times higher than those of Pueraria thomsonii, respectively. The higher levels of isoflavonoids in Pueraria lobata were thought to be responsible for its more potent antioxidant activity as compared with that of Pueraria thomsonii. The HPLC method developed in this study and chemical markers 1-6 can be used for the rapid identification and evaluation of Radix Puerariae herbs and their aqueous supplements, and the results of this investigation support the use of Pueraria lobata and Pueraria thomsonii in the clinic application and as dietary supplement, respectively.


The Cardiotonic Benefits of Hawthorn

Murray, Michael T. Hawthorn: Nature’s cardiotonic. American Journal of Natural Medicine, September 1995, Vol. 2, No. 7, pp. 10-13. From the American Botanical Council HerbClip

The fruits and blossoms of the hawthorn species (Crataegus oxyacantha, C. monogyna, and C. pentagyna) are used medicinally for their therapeutic effects on the cardiovascular system. Hawthorn contains flavonoids, particularly anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins, which are believed to be responsible for its pharmacological activity. Hawthorn’s cardiovascular effects include improving the blood supply to the heart, improving the heart’s metabolic processes, and inhibiting the angiotension converting enzyme (ACE). Hawthorn is used clinically in Europe in the treatment of atherosclerosis, hypertension, congestive heart failure, and minor arrhythmias. Hawthorn exerts a collagen stabilizing effect, and may be clinically useful in treating conditions affecting collagen structure, such as arthritis, periodontal disease, atherosclerosis, and inflammation.

The author reports using hawthorn most often in combination, with magnesium, khella, and other compounds which work synergistically with hawthorn. For a fairly comprehensive review of hawthorn, see Christopher Hobbs’ “Hawthorn: A Literature Review” in HerbalGram #22.

The American Botanical Council provides this summary and the enclosed article as an educational service. By providing this article, ABC does not warrant that the data is accurate and correct, nor does distribution of the enclosed article constitute any endorsement of the information contained or of the views of the authors. ABC does not authorize the copying or use of the original articles. Reproduction of the summaries is allowed on a limited basis for students, colleagues, employees and/or customers. Other uses and distribution require prior approval.

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February, 2005
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