Acupuncture Evidence Underused in Clinical Practice & Healthcare Policy

The British Medical Journal has published research suggesting that clinical practice and healthcare policy underuse acupuncture treatment, despite rigorous systematic reviews documenting high or moderate certainty evidence. A team of Chinese authors identified 2471 systematic reviews published between 2000 and 2020. They concluded that a majority were methodologically rigorous, and a substantial portion provided moderate or high certainty evidence.

The team recommends that in their decision-making, health bodies make better use of the evidence for acupuncture’s effectiveness. Evidence should be better disseminated to clinicians and patients. Clinicians, researchers and funders should set joint research agendas. Researchers and granting agencies should focus on areas where acupuncture has shown large effects supported with low certainty evidence, and avoid research in areas where moderate or high certainty evidence has already proven the benefit of acupuncture.

(Evidence on acupuncture therapies is underused in clinical practice and healthcare policy. BMJ, 25 February 2022.)

Ear Acupuncture helps Diabetic Foot

Acupuncture in Exeter: ear acupuncture helps diabetic foot. Researchers at the University of Alfenas Nursing School in Brazil, have found that ear acupuncture helps diabetic foot, as measured by improved vascular parameters after a course of treatment. A total of 44 patients with type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to receive either five sessions of auricular (ear) acupuncture, or to a no-treatment control group.

Patients receiving acupuncture were observed to have significantly increased lower limb blood circulation and raised plantar temperature, compared with the control group.

(The effects of auricular acupuncture on vascular parameters on the risk factors for diabetic foot: A randomized clinical trial. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, August 2021.)

Acupuncture is One of the Safest Medical Treatments

A team of authors from university hospitals in Munich and Beijing, has concluded that acupuncture is one of the safest medical treatments available. In a systematic review, they surveyed data from 21 studies, covering nearly 13 million acupuncture treatments.

Meta-analyses indicated one minor adverse event in 9.3% of patients during a series of treatments. Serious adverse events were rare, with estimates of 1.01 per 10 000 patients and 8 million treatments. Those requiring any medical treatment were uncommon, and estimated at 1.14 per 1000 patients. Half of the adverse events reported, involved bleeding, pain or inflammation at the needling site.

The authors conclude that acupuncture can be considered among the safer treatments in medicine. Serious adverse events are rare, and the most common minor ones are very mild.   

(Acupuncture-related adverse events: systematic review & meta-analyses of prospective clinical studies. BMJ Open, 6 September 2021.)

Acupuncture for Mild Cognitive Impairment

Acupuncture Exeter: acupuncture for mild cognitive impairment. Researchers at DongShin University in Korea, have assessed the effectiveness of acupuncture for mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and found promising results. A total of 32 patients aged 55 to 85, and with MCI, were randomly assigned to one of four acupuncture treatment arms: a core group of acupuncture points for 30 minutes; core points for 20 minutes; core points plus an additional point; electrical stimulation of core points. Sessions were given three times a week for eight weeks.

All four treatment arms were associated with beneficial effects on cognitive function, with the greatest effect coming from the core group of points when used for 30 minutes. The team recommends more rigorous clinical studies with a large sample size to validate these results.

(Factors contributing to cognitive improvement effects of acupuncture in patients with mild cognitive impairment: a pilot randomized controlled trial. Trials, 12 May 2021.)

Acupressure After Gall Bladder Removal Reduces Pain & Speeds Recovery

Acupressure after gall bladder removal reduces pain & speeds recovery. University researchers in Turkey have found that acupressure after gall bladder removal, reduces pain and speeds recovery. A total of 65 patients undergoing laparoscopic gall bladder removal, were randomly assigned to receive either acupressure at four designated points, or light-touch contact as a control. Acupressure was given for 12 minutes at 0, 4 and 8 hours following surgery.

Acupressure was associated with significantly reduced post-operative pain, increased intestinal sounds, and shortened time to first defecation after surgery. The authors conclude that acupressure can be a recommended nursing intervention following laparoscopic cholecystectomy, to reduce acute pain and shorten the time to defecation.

(The effect on gastrointestinal system functions, pain and anxiety of acupressure applied following laparoscopic cholecystectomy operation: A randomised, placebo-controlled study. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, May 2021.)