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Mystery Ailments Improved With Acupuncture

May 30, 2011

Acupuncture can significantly improve overall well-being and can have a very positive effect on patients with mystery symptoms, a new study from the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Exeter reveals.

The study examined 80 patients, with nearly 60 percent reporting musculoskeletal problems. In the three months prior to the experiment, the subjects accounted for 44 hospital visits, 52 hospital clinic visits, 106 outpatient clinic visits and 75 visits to non NHS workers, The Telegraph reports.

Subjects were randomly divided into an acupuncture group and a control group. Eight acupuncturists administered individual five-element acupuncture to the acupuncture group immediately, up to 12 sessions over 26 weeks. The same numbers of treatments were made available to the control group after 26 weeks.

At 26 weeks the control group began acupuncture treatments – and reported the same benefits. Comments from control group patients included “the energy is the main thing I have noticed. You know, yeah, it’s marvelous!” And, “Where I was going out and cutting my grass, now I’m going out and cutting my neighbor’s after because he’s elderly.”

The associated qualitative study, which focused on the patients’ experiences, supported the quantitative work. This element identified that the participating patients had a variety of longstanding symptoms and disability including chronic pain, fatigue and emotional problems which affected their ability to work, socialize and carry out everyday tasks.

A lack of a convincing diagnosis to explain their symptoms led to frustration, worry and low mood.

Dr. Charlotte Paterson, who managed the trial, explains, “Our research indicates that the addition of up to 12 five-element acupuncture consultations to the usual care experienced by the patients in the trial was feasible and acceptable and resulted in improved overall well-being that was sustained for up to a year.”

“This is the first trial to investigate the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment to those with unexplained symptoms, and the next development will be to carry out a cost-effectiveness study with a longer follow-up period.”

“While further studies are required, this particular study suggests that GPs may recommend a series of five-element acupuncture consultations to patients with unexplained symptoms as a safe and potentially effective intervention.”

In conclusion, Paterson says, “Such intervention could not only result in potential resource savings for the NHS, but would also improve the quality of life for a group of patients for whom traditional biomedicine has little in the way of effective diagnosis and treatment.”

The results of the research are published in the British Journal of General Practice.

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