Monday, June 4, 2012

Acupuncture & Lung Study

This study was recently highlighted in Reuters which summarized the results of COPD patients utilizing acupunture. What I found interesting is that "the benefits seen with the alternative treatment were on par with, or better than, what's been shown for conventional drugs and exercises used to treat the disease..."  "We don't know if this is going to extend life, but the study suggests it improves quality of life," said Dr. George Lewith, from the University of Southampton in England.  "If I had enough money and I was the patient, I would give acupuncture a try."

There were two groups, one who received actual acupunture treatments and the other that received fake treatments where the needle didn't pierce the skin.

Paraphrasing from the article:
In the real acupuncture group, shortness of breath was initially rated at 5.5 out of 10 after walking. After 12 weeks of treatment, that fell to 1.9. The average distance those patients were able to walk in six minutes also improved, from about 370 meters to 440 meters.

In the comparison group, breathlessness scores held steady -- at 4.2 before treatment and 4.6 after -- and there was no improvement in patients' walk distance.

"In a disease like COPD, we need to expand our thinking and come up with varying strategies to improve quality of life and relieve breathlessness," said Dr. Ravi Kalhan, head of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine's asthma and COPD program in Chicago.

Some patients respond better to conventional medications than others, he said -- and it's promising that people in the new study seemed to benefit from acupuncture over and above the effect of those drugs.

...for people who can spare the cost, the researchers agreed there's nothing stopping them from trying out the alternative therapy.
"For me, as long as the therapy is safe and someone wants to try it and it might help and won't hurt, I absolutely encourage it," Kalhan, who wasn't involved in the new study, told Reuters Health.

The full study can be found on JAMA.

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