Acupuncture for Cancer, Asthma, Food Allergies,
Multiple Sclerosis - What Does the Research Say?
by Brian Carter,
|Last week, I worked with a freelance journalist on a survey
of holistic medicine. Initially, part of her article said:"Some
websites claim acupuncture can treat cancer, asthma, food
allergies, multiple sclerosis, and myriad other diseases....
...Generally, these sites are reporting evidence based on personal
experience rather than scientific documentation. Contrary to reports
on the Web and in print, there is no scientific evidence to prove
acupuncture is effective in treating such disease processes."
I took that as a challenge. I've found that journalists and skeptics
often rely on outdated sources for the state of acupuncture research,
so I thought I'd just check with MEDLINE, the National Library
of Medicine's database of 12 million scientific journal citations.
The results below indicated that, to be accurate, she would have
to say that acupuncture has proven its value as an adjunctive
(complementary) cancer therapy, and though not effective for all
types of asthma, acupuncture does improve allergic asthma. I couldn't
find anything on food allergies (and it doesn't make good scientific
sense that it would change food allergies, though it might moderate
them... but we don't know yet). Though there was no proof that
acupuncture could treat multiple sclerosis (MS), there was a study
explained how we could use acupuncture points for earlier MS detection.
From Studies and Reviews of the Scientific Literature Found on
Acupuncture in the Treatment of Cancer
"Acupuncture's use in cancer patients has been recommended
by the American Cancer Society (ACS) for the treatment of cancer
and treatment-related symptoms. Pain, nausea, breathlessness,
vasomotor symptoms and limb edema have all been found to respond
to this treatment modality. In addition, the immunomodulatory
effects of acupuncture, both via the release of pituitary beta-endorphin
and ACTH, as well as alleviating patient stress through relief
of symptoms, are anti-carcinogenic (work against factors that
lead to cancer)." - source
"Patients with cancer or symptoms referable to cancer therapy
were offered acupuncture as potential palliation of their symptoms...
Most patients (60%) showed at least 30% improvement in their symptoms.
About one-third of patients had no change in severity of symptoms.
There were no untoward effects reported related to the acupuncture.
When analyzed by diagnosis, these values persist. Irrespective
of response to therapy, 86% of respondents considered it 'very
important' that we continue to provide acupuncture services. ...
Acupuncture may contribute to control of symptoms for cancer patients.
Expansion of providers, continued patient follow-up, optimization
of techniques and prospective objective measurement of response
continue in our clinic." - source
Acupuncture in the Treatment of Asthma
Results depend on the type of asthma. High-quality studies show
that acupuncture is not effective for bronchial, or mild persistent
asthma, but, it is effective for allergic asthma.
"In a randomized, controlled study we investigated immunologic
effects of Chinese acupuncture on patients with allergic asthma....
lymphocyte subpopulations the CD3+ cells (p = 0.005) and CD4+
cells (p = 0.014) increased significantly. There were also significant
changes in cytokine concentrations: interleukin (IL)-6 (p = 0.026)
and IL-10 (p = 0.001) decreased whereas IL-8 (p = 0.050) rose
significantly. Additionally, the in vitro lymphocyte proliferation
rate increased significantly (p = 0.035) while the number of eosinophils
decreased from 4.4% to 3.3% after acupuncture (p > 0.05). ...
results imply that asthma patients benefit from acupuncture treatment
given in addition to conventional therapy. Furthermore, acupuncture
performed in accordance with the principles of TCM showed significant
immune-modulating effects." - source
information on acupuncture and allergy
Acupuncture in the Detection of Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
For earlier detection of MS:
"In this article the peculiar behavior of all treated patients
is described: increased sensibility of the skin over the acupuncture
loci, while insertion of the acupuncture needles provoke spasms,
clonus and even tonic-clonic contractions of the muscles of the
extremities. This phenomenon is very specific and can be used
as an early sign of this ill-fated illness." - source