A meta-analysis in 2015 of thirteen papers by Chinese authors supports the use of acupuncture in allergic rhinitis (hay fever), concluding that it can exert a significant reduction in nasal symptom scores, medication use, and an increase in quality of life compared with controls.
120 patients in a randomised controlled trial were followed up six months after eight weeks of either integrative treatment (IT) and acupuncture or conventional treatment (CT) by a team of Swedish investigators. Acupuncture was delivered once a week for eight consecutive weeks. IT combined acupuncture with person-centred dialogue. At six months the IT and acupuncture groups showed significantly greater values that CT on anxiety, depression, and quality of life. The improvements remained stable at the six-month follow-up. BMC Complimentary & Alternative Medicine, June 2014.
A German study compared acupuncture treatment with anti-histamine drugs in people who are allergic to house dust mites. Twenty four patients were treated with either acupuncture or with the drug loratadine. The patients’ subjective assessments considered both treatments to be effective, but the good effects were assessed to last longer with acupuncture after the end of treatment.
A 2014 study in Menopause showed that acupuncture can reduce the intensity and frequency of hot flushes due to the menopause. The positive effect didn’t seem to be based on the duration or number of treatments, and it is immediate. “Real” acupuncture outperformed placebo acupuncture in reducing the hot flushes, but the frequency was reduced by both. The improvements lasted up to three months.
Researchers from the University of Western Australia have undertaken a study of how effective acupuncture is in treating patients with depression. The research, published in the journal ‘Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice’ 23.7.12, concluded that acupuncture was effective in reducing depressive symptoms.
Acupuncture can be used to improve the condition of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to a MAY 2012 Japanese study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, acupuncture is claimed to help manage the disease by alleviating laboured breathing. This was a randomised controlled trial involving 68 patients. Half the participants had acupuncture for 12 weeks while taking their usual medications. The other half had placebo acupuncture with blunt needles which did not pierce the skin, and medications. The trial lasted for 3 years. The researchers found that patients who had undergone real acupuncture demonstrated significant improvement in breathlessness, exercise capacity, and health-related quality of life. No improvement was shown in the placebo group. More and bigger studies need to be made to support these findings.
In one study in of 44 women, acupuncture was better than drug treatment for relieving sleeplessness according to a 2008 article in Acupuncture and Electro-therapeutics Research.
Another study published in 2009 in the Chinese Medical Journal found that electroacupuncture improved sleep quality and daytime social functioning in chronic insomniacs.
An “Opinion Paper” published by scientists from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists states that acupuncture may be useful for chronic pelvic pain. Specific trials weren’t quoted, but the scientists had looked at the results of trials on closely related conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, pelvic inflammatory disease, and painful menstruation.
According to a September 2011 article in the European Journal of Oncology Nursing, a study from the UK suggests that acupuncture can help improve the quality of life for cancer survivors with lymphoedema. The study recruited 35 cancer survivors with lymphoedema, and participants received seven acupuncture treatments and six optional further treatments. In addition to the improved quality of life scores, improvements in pain and vitality were significant to four weeks after treatment.
According to the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology, an Italian study this year concluded that acupuncture prevents abnormal heart rhythms from returning in atrial fibrillation patients treated with electrical cardioversion.