- A 2002 German study that received a lot of attention found significantly higher conception rates (42.5% vs. 26.3%) when acupuncture was used with IVF. More recently, two studies published in May 2006, showed that acupuncture can improve IVF success rates. First, in Germany, 225 women undergoing in vitro fertilization participated in a study. Of these, 116 patients received luteal phase (the phase after ovulation) acupuncture according to the principles of TCM and 109 people received a standard protocol of acupuncture. The treatment group using TCM principles had a significantly higher clinical pregnancy rate than the placebo group (33.6% vs. 15.6% respectively).
- A Denmark study published at the same time examined the effect of acupuncture received on the day of embryo transfer vs. no acupuncture, and they also found a significant increase in pregnancy rates (39% vs. 26%). The researchers concluded that acupuncture on the day of embryo transfer improved the outcome of IVF.
- In September 2005, the University of Maryland received $400,000 from The National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institute of Health. The University of Maryland Medical Center has announced plans for a double-blind study of IVF combined with acupuncture. The study is funded by the National Institute for Health and is currently recruiting patients to participate. They hope to identify if acupuncture results in increased blood flow to the uterus, a rise in hormone levels or reduced stress that might account for the apparent increase in IVF success rate.
- The researchers from the Ruhr University Bochum, say their findings suggest that the body may react positively to acupuncture. More than 1,100 patients took part in the study. They were given either conventional therapy, acupuncture or a sham version. After six months, 47% of patients in the acupuncture group reported a significant improvement in pain symptoms, compared to 44% in the sham group and just 27% in the group who received conventional therapy.
- Led by Professor Brian Berman of the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine, Baltimore, and published in the American Journal Annals of Internal Medicine, which has found that acupuncture significantly reduces pain and improves function for those suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee. 570 patients aged 50 or older and suffering from arthritis of the knee were split into three groups. The first received acupuncture, the second a sham treatment and the third attended self-help lessons. After 8 weeks, the subjects receiving acupuncture were showing an improvement in mobility and by 14 weeks a significant decrease in pain. Overall, patients receiving the true acupuncture reported a 40% improvement in both pain and function from their baseline scores.
- A pilot study conducted by Magee-Women's Health Corporation and funded by the NIH is exploring the effects of acupuncture on cancer-related fatigue. Cancer-related fatigue is a substantial problem for cancer patients and their caregivers. Little is known about the mechanisms underlying fatigue and even less about its management. Their hypothesis is that true acupuncture will reduce cancer-related fatigue in breast cancer patients receiving radiation therapy compared to sham acupuncture.
- A pilot study conducted by Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research and funded by the NIH is exploring the effects of acupuncture on cancer patients with hot flashes. Hot flashes are a common side-effect of treatment for breast and prostate cancer. Between one-half and two-thirds of breast and prostate cancer patients report hot flashes, and many of these rate their problem as moderately or extremely severe. Several drugs are available, but clinically relevant adverse effects are common and response rates are moderate. Endogenous opioids have been implicated in hot flashes. It is known that acupuncture leads to endorphin release and there is also preliminary evidence that acupuncture may lead to changes in the genetic expression of endogenous opioids. Several single-arm studies have shown large and persistent decreases in hot flashes following acupuncture treatment. A randomized trial in menopausal hot flashes also had encouraging results. These considerations warrant further research on acupuncture for hot flashes associated with cancer treatment.
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