The current issue of BJOG, a leading publication in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, features a study on acupuncture and premenstrual syndrome. In attempt to evaluate current evidence, the researchers searched for high quality studies and included 10 of them in this review.
The results showed that acupuncture is superior to all controls. Four studies comparing the effects of acupuncture with different doses of progestin and anti-anxiety medications also supported the use of acupuncture. Acupuncture significantly improved symptoms when compared with sham acupuncture, ruling out the improvements were due to the placebo effect.
The researchers concluded that considering the potential of acupuncture, it needs to be further rigorously studied.
Acupuncture – effective and safe treatment for pregnancy depression
I’ve written on the subject of depression and acupuncture before. Now a new and largest study to date published in Obstetrics & Gynaecology confirms acupuncture to be effective for pregnancy depression. I sincerely hope, that for the benefit of the developing babies, acupuncture becomes a mainstream therapy for pregnancy depression.
Why antidepressants is such a bad idea during pregnancy?
Since 2008 NZ Medsafe has been warning that SSRI antidepressant use in pregnancy may increase the risk of congenital abnormalities, and that in later stages of pregnancy can lead to neonatal complications indicative of a withdrawal syndrome, and to persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn; and that doctors need to discuss this with their patients.
Some antidepressants were considered to be relatively safe not so long ago, but there is more and more evidence confirming that any kind of antidepressants may temporary or permanently harm the developing foetus. The March 2010 issue of Pediatrics reports that antidepressants may permanently or reversibly affect fetal brain development.
Why you shouldn’t delay and address pregnancy depression as soon as it is diagnosed
The bottom line? Depression during pregnancy may harm the developing foetus and so can antidepressants. Acupuncture is safe and effective treatment for pregnancy depression. If you are pregnant and suspect that you may be suffering from depression, remember to discuss acupuncture with your obstetrician, midwife or GP and give me a ring!
The largest study on acupuncture and insomnia to date found acupuncture to be more effective than orthodox sleeping medications in improving your sleep and relieving insomnia. The researchers also found that combining acupuncture with medication was more beneficial than medication alone. Acupuncture plus herbs also improved sleep better than herbs alone.
The bottom line:
The most common solution your doctor will offer for insomnia is sleeping pills. Unfortunately the sleeping pills are addictive and their effect diminishes with time. Furthermore, sleeping pills don’t give you quality sleep and have a sedative effect, which may affect your performance during the day as well as driving. Acupuncture offers a superior alternative to sleeping medications. Acupuncture does not have the side effects of the sleeping pills and it is more effective in treatment of insomnia.
image courtesy of samantids
If you are in New Zealand, you may have read the article on stuff.co.nz titled “Needles ease depression“. The article cites a small Australian study, which shows that acupuncture can effectively relieve severe depression. A quick web search has shown that the results of this particular study, even though quite dramatic, are still preliminary. The study is not completed yet.
I did a bit more digging in medical databases online and found another study published earlier this year in Journal of affective disorders. This study is a meta analysis (which is quite a lot higher up on the evidence based medicine hierarchy ladder).
The researchers reviewed and summarised results of eight randomised controlled trials. They confirmed that acupuncture significantly reduced the severity of depression, which was indicated by decreased scores of Hamilton rating scale for depression (HAMD) or Beck Depression Inventory (BDI).
People exhausted by chemotherapy felt better and had the energy to walk to the shops and to socialise, so their quality of life improved significantly after six sessions of acupuncture in a study conducted by Alex Molassiotis, professor of cancer and supportive care at the University of Manchester.
In this randomised placebo-controlled trial, the chemotherapy patients were randomly assigned to one of three groups to receive either (1) acupuncture or (2) acupressure or (3) sham acupressure.
The acupuncture group (1) received six 20 minute sessions spread over three weeks.
Patients in the acupressure group (2) were taught to massage the same acupuncture points.
The sham acupressure (3) patients were taught the same massage technique, but were told to massage points on not associated with energy and fatigue.
Patients receiving acupuncture (1) reported a 36% improvement in fatigue, whilst those in the acupressure group (2) improved by 19%. The sham acupressure group (3) reported a mere 0.6% improvement.
Acupuncture for Women With Concurrent Substance Use and Anxiety/Depression
In this controlled trial, women receiving acupuncture reported
than women in the control group.
It was found that auricular acupuncture, as an adjunct therapy to a comprehensive psychoeducational treatment program for women with addictions, shows promise in being an effective, more viable treatment alternative to anti-anxiety drugs anxiolytics.
This study was published in Family & Community Health April/June 2007 Volume 30 Number 2 Pages 112 – 120.
In a study carried out at Stanford University, 61 women with major depressive disorder were randomly assigned to receive one of three treatments:
(i). Individually tailored true acupuncture designed to treat their depression,
(ii). True acupuncture but with points not chosen to treat the depression, and
(iii). Massage treatment (included to provide a control for attention, physical contact, relaxation and respite from daily stress).
Acute phase treatment was given for twelve sessions over eight weeks, with continued treatment throughout pregnancy for those who responded.
As far as possible the acupuncture treatment was double-blinded, with the treatment
to be given by a treating acupuncturist determined by a different (assessing) acupuncturist. The assessment, treatment design, needle insertion, and needle stimulation were all standardised. Response rates at the end of the acute
68.8% in the depression specific acupuncture,
47.4% in the non depression-specific acupuncture, and
31.6% in the massage group.
The study also showed that successful treatment of depression during pregnancy offers protection from postpartum depression.
Fibromyalgia, is characterized by chronic, widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, joint stiffness and sleep disturbance.
No cure is known and available treatments are only partially effective.
According to a research team led by Dr. David Martin, an anesthesiologist at the Mayo Clinic, fibromyalgia patients who received acupuncture reported improvement in fatigue and anxiety, among other symptoms.
Acupuncture was also well tolerated with minimal side effects, the researchers said in the June issue of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
The study involved 50 fibromyalgia patients enrolled in a randomized, controlled trial to determine if acupuncture improved their symptoms. Twenty-five in the acupuncture group and 25 in the control group.
In the acupuncture group, total fibromyalgia symptoms were significantly improved compared with the control group during the study period.
Fatigue and anxiety were the most significantly improved symptoms during the follow-up period.
“We found that acupuncture significantly improved symptoms of fibromyalgia. Symptomatic improvement was not restricted to pain relief and was most significant for fatigue and anxiety,” the researchers concluded.
Agency’s Recommendations on Suicide Risk
Include Adults as Well as Children
By ANNA WILDE MATHEWS and SCOTT HENSLEY
Staff Reporters of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
March 23, 2004; Page D1
The Food and Drug Administration sharply stepped up warnings about possible risks to patients taking antidepressant drugs, asking doctors, families and caregivers to watch closely for signs of increasing depression or suicidal thinking.
The FDA asked the makers of 10 major antidepressant drugs, including versions of Prozac, Wellbutrin, Paxil, Effexor and Zoloft, to place more detailed, explicit warnings on the labels for their medicines. The FDA didn’t order the manufacturers to change their labels, but urged them to do so voluntarily. The new cautions would ask doctors to monitor patients for a variety of symptoms from insomnia and irritability to hostility and panic attacks that might possibly signal greater risks.
The announcement comes more than a month after an FDA advisory committee urged the agency to provide clearer warnings about possible risk of suicidal tendencies in children and adolescents taking antidepressants. Still, yesterday’s development went well beyond the earlier recommendations, and included adults as well.
The most immediate result may be that doctors, particularly those who don’t focus on pediatric psychiatry, become more cautious in how they prescribe antidepressants for kids and teenagers. They could start prescribing smaller doses and being slower to step up the amounts of medicine.
“People might wait until they’ve been in talking therapy a little bit, before trying drugs,” said Richard Malone, a child psychiatrist at Drexel University College of Medicine, who was a member of the FDA advisory committee.