Researchers funded by the US Government’s Gulf War Illness Research Program, have concluded that individualized acupuncture treatment can offer significant relief to veterans with Gulf War Illness (GWI). GWI is a complex and poorly understood condition, characterised by multiple symptoms including fatigue, musculoskeletal pain and sleep and mood disturbances.
A total of 104 veterans diagnosed with the illness were randomised to receive either biweekly acupuncture for 6 months, or 2 months on a waiting list followed by weekly acupuncture for 4 months. Treatment was provided by experienced practitioners close to where the veterans worked and lived, and it was individualised to the patient, with the inclusion as required of standard additional techniques such as Chinese massage.
By month 6, greater clinically significant improvements in physical symptoms and pain scores, were seen in the biweekly acupuncture group. The researchers say that their study supports the use of individualized acupuncture treatments for the management of GWI symptoms, and that acupuncture treatment may be an effective, safe, low-cost treatment option for returning military as well as civilian populations impacted by chronic multi-symptom illness. Participants reported high usability of acupuncture, with 96% of them reporting confidence in recommending acupuncture to a friend or family member.