Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ahhh, Research!

Finding a research study involving acupuncture that has any statistical significance or reproducible design is not an easy task. This one involving hot flashes and tamoxifen is decent, despite the argument that it is not reproducible because there is no pill involved (?!) and the results are subjective (um, last time I checked there was no lab value for pain or discomfort). An objector does bring up a reluctance to send one of his patients to an acupuncturist he is not familiar with, and that should make any practitioner realize that MDs can be an important component to a successful practice. From my standpoint, I would have liked to have known what treatment protocol was used, but with a little digging I am sure it is not difficult to find.

Acupuncture Can Relieve Hot Flushes Caused by Tamoxifen
Monday, 21 April 2008 20:53 Zosia Chustecka

Acupuncture reduced by half the hot flushes caused by tamoxifen in a small clinical trial involving 59 breast cancer patients after surgery. Relief was experienced both day and night, and the reduction in hot flushes was seen 3 months after the last acupuncture treatment.

The study involved a 10-week course of treatment (with sessions twice a week for 5 weeks, and then once a week for 5 weeks). A control group received sham acupuncture, with needles inserted shallowly (to a depth of 3 mm; in real acupuncture, needles are inserted to a depth of 3 cm), and in places far away from known acupuncture points. Ms. Hervik said that in both cases she aimed for a neutral atmosphere, with no soft music and minimal time spent talking to the patient, to reduce the placebo effect of the treatment.

Women treated with real acupuncture reported a 50% reduction in hot flushes, both day and night, and reported a further reduction in hot flushes when assessed 3 months after the last acupuncture treatment. The women in the sham group reported no changes in hot flushes during the day, and a slight reduction in hot flushes at night while the treatment was ongoing, but they increased once the treatment stopped.

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