Research on Acupuncture

2010 March 22
by admin

Acupuncture involves stimulating points on the body, using thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by hand or by electrical stimulation. Chinese tradition teaches acupuncture practitioners that the aim is to improve levels of qi, which is considered the energy force behind all life, and restore balance in the opposing forces of yin and yang. The needles are placed along meridians, invisible energy channels described in ancient Chinese manuscripts as running the length of the body.

Building an Evidence Base: Clinical Research Progress
“Our goal is to build a house of evidence,” explains long-time NCCAM grantee Brian Berman, M.D., director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
To date, much of the progress in clinical research on acupuncture has come from an interdisciplinary approach that includes experts in acupuncture, clinical trial methodology, biostatistics, and relevant diseases such as osteoarthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome.
“What we’ve learned so far is that the most promising area for using acupuncture is pain,” says Dr. Nahin. Clinical studies are showing acupuncture’s efficacy for some types of pain, such as back, osteoarthritis, and postoperative pain. For example, a systematic review supports the use of acupuncture for postoperative pain management. An NCCAM-supported Phase III clinical trial led by Dr. Berman showed that acupuncture relieved pain and improved function in patients with knee osteoarthritis when it was used with standard medical care, including anti-inflammatory medications and opioid pain relievers. In a large study published in 2009, researchers found that people suffering from chronic low-back pain who received acupuncture or simulated acupuncture treatments fared better than those receiving only conventional care. Pilot studies have looked at acupuncture in posttraumatic stress disorder and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. And, the Cochrane Collaboration reviewed 11 randomized trials and found that acupuncture may be a valuable option for patients suffering from tension headaches.
But these clinical outcomes may involve more than acupoints and needles. Other aspects of the acupuncture experience may play important roles in healing, including reassurance provided by the practitioner, expectation of benefit, and the sensory experience elicited by acupuncture needling, which has been called de qi and variously described as aching, dull pain, tingling, or a heaviness. In several recent studies researchers have carefully designed their studies to compare true acupuncture to simulated acupuncture and have tried to mimic the sensory experience of true acupuncture so that patients would be unaware of whether they were receiving true or simulated acupuncture. In some of these studies, such as the 2009 study on low-back pain, both simulated acupuncture and real acupuncture produced greater benefit than standard therapy.


NationalNCCAM, National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, Maryland 20892 USA

Diet Supplements

2010 February 6
by admin

Many people take dietary supplements in an effort to be well and stay healthy. With so many dietary supplements available and so many claims made about their health benefits, how can a consumer decide what’s safe and effective? This fact sheet provides a general overview of dietary supplements, discusses safety considerations, and suggests sources for additional information.

Key Points

  • Federal regulations for dietary supplements are very different from those for prescription and over-the-counter drugs. For example, a dietary supplement manufacturer does not have to prove a product’s safety and effectiveness before it is marketed.
  • If you are thinking about using a dietary supplement, first get information on it from reliable sources. Keep in mind that dietary supplements may interact with medications or other dietary supplements and may contain ingredients not listed on the label.
  • Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use, including dietary supplements. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

About Dietary Supplements

Woman looking at a pill bottle.
© Jupiterimages

Dietary supplements were defined in a law passed by Congress in 1994 called the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). According to DSHEA, a dietary supplement is a product that:

  • Is intended to supplement the diet
  • Contains one or more dietary ingredients (including vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and certain other substances) or their constituents
  • Is intended to be taken by mouth, in forms such as tablet, capsule, powder, softgel, gelcap, or liquid
  • Is labeled as being a dietary supplement.

Herbal supplements are one type of dietary supplement. An herb is a plant or plant part (such as leaves, flowers, or seeds) that is used for its flavor, scent, and/or therapeutic properties. “Botanical” is often used as a synonym for “herb.” An herbal supplement may contain a single herb or mixtures of herbs.

Research has shown that some uses of dietary supplements are effective in preventing or treating diseases. For example, scientists have found that folic acid (a vitamin) prevents certain birth defects, and a regimen of vitamins and zinc can slow the progression of the age- related eye disease macular degeneration. Also, calcium and vitamin D supplements can be helpful in preventing and treating bone loss and osteoporosis (thinning of bone tissue).

Research has also produced some promising results suggesting that other dietary supplements may be helpful for other health conditions (e.g., omega-3 fatty acids for coronary disease), but in most cases, additional research is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn.


.N C C A M: The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Changing face of health care

2009 August 6
by admin

In the past decade,newspaper was ubiquitious to news.We relied on Newspaper everyday to deliver us uptodate news about what was happening not only in the region in which we habitated but also for news from across the world.

Newspaper displayed our classified ads,and we trusted   them to sell or buy local stuff,but when Internet surfaced on the horizon,newspaper industry,never gave much importance to that,in as much dismissed it as a phenomenon which was made popular by the dot com growth,with some teenager in basement running a website.
The authority of website or the power of communities or even the power of the people was not much anticipated.
In 2009,we depend on online media to deliver our news,either through RSS or by visiting some trusted news-sites,Blogs are some of the people driven content that we read regularly then  newspaper column.
We buy and sell most of our stuff online,we buy even books regularly online,watch movies online or even watch news video online.
Why? one is the time factor as in five mins,one can absorb as much news..then spending few hours browsing through a Newspaper.
There are many other reasons..apart from these…
What does it abode for the healthcare industry.The same pattern as the Newspaper industry.
Today,patients are well informed about their medical condition then their local GPs,they discsuss about various procedures,its benefits and effects online,They read journals online and many ventures on the Internet are now surfacing which have direct patient management role.
One of the major impact Internet will have is online management of health of an individual.Personal health records which were once upon a time managed through paper based records,will now shift to web based format.
But,the major barrier to the growth has been the factor of trust,and also the loss of data.
If the e-commerce industry could grow rapdily in the past few years,to simulate online purchase-it was due to enhanced security,trust and also depersonalization of the data.So that in case if the financial transactions are manipulated,not much is lost.Yet it is not perfect.But,a step in right direction.
If the same could be replicated in health care industry in management of health care records?will it change the face of health record management?