Acupuncture combined with amiodarone, a standard anti-arrhythmic drug, seems more effective at preventing the recurrence of atrial fibrillation after ablation, than does the drug alone. A Chinese team randomised 85 patients into acupuncture and control groups. Both groups used the drug from day one after the ablation, but additionally the acupuncture group received daily needling for seven days afterwards.
After three months, the rate of atrial fibrillation recurrence in the acupuncture group was 12%, compared with 33% in the control group. Serum inflammatory markers were elevated in both groups after ablation but the acupuncture group displayed significantly lower levels.
(Effect of acupuncture at Neiguan point combined with amiodarone therapy on early recurrence after pulmonary vein electrical isolation in patients with persistent atrial fibrillation. Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology, 24 March 2019.)
American authors have surveyed complementary treatments including acupuncture for psoriasis. They studied 44 randomised controlled trials, 13 uncontrolled trials and 3 meta-analyses. One meta-analysis of 13 randomised controlled trials examined the association of acupuncture with improvement in psoriasis, and showed significant improvement with acupuncture compared with placebo.
Other helpful approaches were fish oil, curcumin, dietary modification, meditation and Chinese herbs.
(Complementary & Alternative Medicine Therapies for Psoriasis: A Systematic Review. Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology, November 2018.)
A review by American clinicians of acupuncture in cancer care, shows it is associated with improvements across a range of symptoms patients typically encounter. They studied records on 375 patients, mean age 56, presenting for acupuncture treatment over one year at an outpatient integrative medicine clinic. The worst symptoms at baseline were poor sleep, fatigue, impaired wellbeing and pain.
After the initial acupuncture session, statistically significant improvements were noted across all symptoms. The highest mean reduction occurred for hot flushes, followed by fatigue, numbness/tingling and nausea. Clinically significant reductions were observed in both physical and psychological symptom scores, including those for anxiety, appetite, depression, dry mouth, shortness of breath and wellbeing. Response rates were highest for symptoms of spiritual pain (59%), dry mouth (58%) and nausea (57%).
The study authors point out that a 2017 National Cancer Institute paper identified as a future direction the need to advance the evidence-based integration of acupuncture into conventional cancer care settings.
(Outpatient acupuncture effects on patient self-reported symptoms in oncology care: a retrospective analysis. Journal of Cancer, 8 September 2018.)
A Cochrane Database systematic review by Italian authors looking at acupuncture for prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome, has concluded that based on short term follow up, acupuncture reduces prostatitis symptoms in an appreciable number of participants compared with sham procedure. In an appreciable number of patients, it probably also decreases prostatitis symptoms when compared with standard medical therapy. In all, the authors examined 38 studies covering 3300 men, which made 23 comparisons between different treatment and lifestyle interventions.
(Non-pharmacological interventions for treating chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 12 May 2018.)
An American research team has found preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture in reducing the incidence of high grade chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, in women being treated for breast cancer. A total of 104 stage I-III breast cancer patients receiving weekly paclitaxel (Taxol) treatment, were screened for symptoms of peripheral neuropathy (usually manifesting as numbness and tingling in the hands and feet). Of these, 37 developed symptoms, and 27 were then given acupuncture. Of the latter, 26 completed chemotherapy treatment without a significant worsening of neuropathy symptoms.
The researchers conclude acupuncture is safe and shows preliminary evidence of effectiveness in reducing the incidence of high grade peripheral neuropathy. A follow-up randomised controlled trial is needed to establish definitive efficacy for patients at risk.
(A phase IIA trial of acupuncture to reduce chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy severity during neoadjuvant or adjuvant weekly paclitaxel chemotherapy in breast cancer patients. European Journal of Cancer, September 2018.)