Meng Z, Garcia MK, Hu C, et al. Randomized controlled trial of acupuncture for prevention of radiation-induced xerostomia among patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Cancer. 2011 Nov 9. doi: 10.1002/cncr.26550. [Epub ahead of print]
A total of 86 patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma were randomized to receive acupuncture (AC) or standard of care to prevent xerostomia. Patients were treated 3 times per week before radiotherapy, and both subjective measures (a xerostomia questionnaire [XQ] and MD Anderson Symptom Inventory–Head and Neck [MDASI-HN]) and objective measures (salivary flow rates) were obtained for up to 6 months of followup. XQ was significantly lower for AC than controls starting week 3 through 6 months with clinically significant differences at week 11; findings for MDASI-HN scores were similar. Group differences emerged as early as 3 weeks into treatment for saliva with greater saliva flow in the AC group at weeks 7 and 11 and at 6 months. AC given concurrently with radiotherapy significantly reduced xerostomia and improved quality of life. Other trials are ongoing.
Andreescu C, Glick RM, Emeremni CA, et al. Acupuncture for the treatment of major depressive disorder: a randomized controlled trial. J Clin Psychiatry. 2011;72:1129-35.
Fifty-three patients with mild or moderate major depressive disorder were randomized to acupuncture or sham control for a total of twelve 30-minute sessions (twice per week) over 6 to 8 weeks and evaluated using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) as the primary outcome measure. Both treatments resulted in similar absolute and relative improvements using HDRS and significant decreases in HDRS sleep and anxiety subscale scores from baseline to end of intervention. No adverse effects were reported with either intervention. More studies in MDD populations are needed.
Walker EM, Rodriguez AI, Kohn B, et al. Acupuncture versus venlafaxine for the management of vasomotor symptoms in patients with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer: A randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol. 2010 Feb 1;28(4):634-40.
In this study, 50 breast cancer patients were randomly assigned to receive 12 weeks of acupuncture or venlafaxine, the standard drug therapy used to address hot flashes. Following the study period, both groups reported significant reduction in hot flashes, depressive symptoms, and improvement in energy levels, clarity of thought and a sense of well-being. But two weeks after treatment, patients in the venlafaxine group experienced significant increases in hot flashes compared with those in the acupuncture group. The venlafaxine group also reported 18 incidences of adverse effects such as nausea, dry mouth, dizziness, and anxiety. No such effects were seen in the acupuncture group. Acupuncture may be a safe and effective alternative to drug therapy for reducing hot flashes in breast cancer patients.
Brinkhaus B, Witt CM, Jena S, et al. Acupuncture in patients with allergic rhinitis: a pragmatic randomized trial. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2008;101:535-543.
This study involved patients with allergic rhinitis, 487 of whom were assigned to receive up to 15 acupuncture treatments over 3 months, 494 patients to a control group, and 4,256 patients to a nonrandomized acupuncture group. All patients were being treated with standard care for rhinitis. Researchers found that at 3 months, those receiving acupuncture had greater improvement in quality of life compared with patients in the control group as assessed by the Rhinitis Quality of Life Questionnaire. The 6-month improvements in the acupuncture groups were smaller compared with the 3-month assessment. These data indicate that acupuncture resulted in clinically relevant and persistent benefits, and can be a useful adjunct with routine care in the management of allergic rhinitis.
Vickers AJ, et al. Acupuncture for postchemotherapy fatigue: A phase II study. J Clin Oncol. 2004;22:1731-1735.
In this study involving cancer patients who had completed chemotherapy but experienced persistent fatigue, 25 patients received acupuncture twice a week for 4 weeks and 12 patients received acupuncture once a week for 6 weeks. Patients reported an improvement of 31% in fatigue level measured at 2 weeks after the final treatment compared with baseline. There was no significant difference in weekly and bi-weekly treatments. The result suggests that acupuncture has benefit in treating post-chemotherapy fatigue. However, this is only a preliminary study on a small number of patients and was not randomized. Further studies involving large number of patients are warranted.
Vickers AJ, et al. Acupuncture for chronic headache in primary care: large, pragmatic, randomized trial. BMJ. 2004;328:744-749.
In this study, 401 patients with chronic headache were randomly assigned to receive up to 12 acupuncture treatments over a period of 3 months or conventional treatment. Patients in the acupuncture group reported fewer headaches, less use of medication, fewer visits to doctors, and improved quality of life compared with those who received conventional care. Researchers concluded that acupuncture offers persistent clinical benefits for patients with chronic headache, particularly migraine.