How acupuncture works: mechanisms of electro acupuncture and clinical application.

Electroacupuncture: mechanisms and clinical application.
Ulett GA, Han S, Han JS.

University of Missouri-Columbia, School of Medicine, St. Louis 63139, USA.

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese method to treat diseases and relieve pain. We have conducted a series of studies to examine the mechanisms of this ancient method for pain relief. This article reviews some of our major findings. Our studies showed that acupuncture produces analgesic effect and that electroacupuncture (EA) is more effective than manual acupuncture. Furthermore, electrical stimulation via skin patch electrodes is as effective as EA. The induction and recovering profiles of acupuncture analgesia suggest the involvement of humoral factors. This notion was supported by cross-perfusion experiments in which acupuncture-induced analgesic effect was transferred from the donor rabbit to the recipient rabbit when the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) was transferred. The prevention of EA-induced analgesia by naloxone and by antiserum against endorphins suggests that endorphins are involved. More recent work demonstrated the release of endorphins into CSF following EA. In addition, low frequency (2 Hz) and high frequency (100 Hz) of EA selectively induces the release of enkephalins and dynorphins in both experimental animals and humans. Clinical studies suggesting its effectiveness for the treatment of various types of pain, depression, anxiety, spinally induced muscle spasm, stroke, gastrointestinal disorders, and drug addiction were also discussed.

Biol Psychiatry. 1998 Jul 15;44(2):129-38.

Naturally reduce pain of Dysmenorrhoea (cramps or painful menstruation) with acupressure

Effects of acupressure at the Sanyinjiao point on primary dysmenorrhoea.
Chen HM, Chen CH.

Assistant Professor, Chung Hwa College of Medical Technology, Tainan, Taiwan.

AIM: This paper presents the findings of a study that assessed the effects of acupressure at the Sanyinjiao point on symptoms of primary dysmenorrhoea among adolescent girls. BACKGROUND: Dysmenorrhoea is the most common gynaecological disorder among adolescents. Traditional Chinese acupressure derived from acupuncture is a non-invasive technique. Despite renewed interest in the use of acupressure, relatively few studies have been undertaken to examine its effects on primary dysmenorrhoea. METHODS: An experimental study was conducted between December 2000 and August 2001. Participants were female students attending a technical college in Taiwan. None of the 69 participants had a prior history of gynaecological disease or secondary dysmenorrhoea, and all were rated higher than five for pain on a visual analogue scale from 0 to 10. The experimental group (n = 35) received acupressure at Sanyinjiao (above the ankle) while the control group (n = 34) rested for 20 min, while the control group underwent rest in the school health centre for 20 min without receiving acupressure. Fifty participants (30 experimental, 20 control) completed the 4-6-week follow-up session. Five instruments were used to collect pretest and post-test data at each session: (1) Visual Analogue Scale for pain; (2) the Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire; (3) the Menstrual Distress Questionnaire; (4) the Visual Analogue Scale for anxiety; and, for the experimental group only, (5) the Acupressure Self-Assessment Form. Data were analysed using the chi-square test, two-sample t-test and repeated measures two-way anova. RESULTS: Acupressure at Sanyinjiao during the initial session reduced the pain and anxiety typical of dysmenorrhoea. In the self-treatment follow-up session, acupressure at Sanyinjiao significantly reduced menstrual pain but not anxiety. Thirty-one (87%) of the 35 experimental participants reported that acupressure was helpful, and 33 (94%) were satisfied with acupressure in terms of its providing pain relief and psychological support during dysmenorrhoea.

CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that acupressure at Sanyinjiao can be an effective, cost-free intervention for reducing pain and anxiety during dysmenorrhoea, and we recommend its use for self-care of primary dysmenorrhoea.

J Adv Nurs. 2004 Nov;48(4):380-7.