Evidence back acupuncture

The evidence backing acupuncture continues to grow, with a general practice study showing the treatment to be highly effective in treating chronic headache.

Twelve sessions of acupuncture over three months led to a 34% reduction in headache severity at one year compared with a 16% reduction in patients given standard care, accord ing to results published in the

BMJ (26 March).

“Patients randomised to acupuncture had 22 fewer days of headache a year and used 15% less medication, the study of about 400 patients with chronic headache revealed.

The UK researchers said the effects of acupuncture were long-lasting. Although few patients received acupuncture after the initial three-month treatment period, headache scores remained lower at one year.

A policy of using a local acupuncture service, in addition to standard care, results in persisting, clinically relevant benefits for primary care patients with chronic headache, particularly migraine.” The authors wrote.

“Use of medication and other therapies (such as chiropractic) was lower in patients assigned to acupuncture, indicating the superior results in this group were not due to confounding by off-study interventions,” they wrote.

Patients most likely to benefit were those with migraine and those with more severe symptoms, while age and sex did not significantly influence outcomes.

Ms Tari Turner, researcher at Melbourne’s Monash University centre for clinical effectiveness, said the study added to the evidence about acupuncture’s effectiveness, but cautioned it was limited by the potential for the

placebo effect, arising from a lack of a sham acupuncture intervention in the control group.

However, Professor Marc Cohen, head of complementary medicine at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, said it was difficult to conduct placebo-controlled trials because of the nature of acupuncture.

Acupuncture was a legitimate form of treatment that had an evidence base that was continually growing, he told Australian Doctor.

The treatment had a low side-effect profile compared with medication use and was already well accepted by the medical community, with 20% of GPs referring patients for treatment, he said.

It should be considered in the forefront of GP’s minds as a legitimate treatment,” he said.

Professor Cohen said the trend in the study towards fewer GP visits and fewer days away from work in patients receiving acupuncture might have reached statistical significance with a larger sample size.

BMJ 2004; 328:744-47.

About Geoffrey He

Dr. Geoffrey He graduated in 1998 with Bachelor of Medicine majored acupuncture (Chinese medicine). He then worked as resident in Heilongjiang Province Hospital of China for five years. At the same time he furthered his education and acquired Bachelor of Medicine majored in Clinical Medicine (western medicine).He started his private practice in 2003 in Sydney and then moved to Adelaide in 2006 to pursue his special interest in pain management and fertility studies in combined Chinese medicine and traditional medicine.He has been practiced acupuncture and Chinese medicine for over twenty years treating general conditions with extensive experience in gynaecological disorders and infertility, stress related conditions and facial acupuncture, he is highly experienced in clinical medicine for pain management (Neurological Medicine), gynaecological disorders, fertility assistance (IVF) and cosmetic acupuncture. He is special interest in the area of Post Injury Management and General Practice in Chinese Medicine.Focusing on an intuitive level to suit each individual, Geoffrey's approach is rooted in the strong link between physical, mental and emotional health and the underlying cause of disharmony. Treatment is supported by additional lifestyle advice with an emphasis on empowering patients to achieve a healthy balance in their lives."I was trained in Western Conventional Medicine and Chinese Medicine with over 15 years clinical practicing experience including ten years in Australia, I combine the techniques of Modern Medicine and the art of healing from Chinese Medicine to help people get their natural and healthy life." - Dr Geoffrey x He