Acupuncture Eases Unexplained Symptoms
December 2011
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A Natural Alternative May Offer Relief

acupuncturePatients that experience medically unexplained symptoms might benefit from acupuncture, according to new research by the Institute of Health Services Research, Peninsula Medical School, at the University of Exeter. The study involved 80 adults that had consulted their general practitioner eight or more times in the previous year for problems such as headaches, muscle pain, extreme fatigue or joint and back pain. Half received up to 12 sessions of five-element acupuncture during a period of six months; the remainder received no extra treatment.

The patients receiving acupuncture reported improved well-being and scored higher on an individualized health status questionnaire  than the control group. They reported that their acupuncture consultations became increasingly valuable and that the interactive and holistic nature of the sessions gave them a sense that something positive was being done about their condition.

Professor Andrew Gould, who led the study, says it is important to offer patients other options when conventional medicine isn’t working. “It’s soul-destroying for both the patient and doctor when there’s no clear reason for the symptoms patients are suffering from,” he explains. “We don’t know how acupuncture is making a difference, but it seems to be something to do with the treatment, rather than just a placebo or the one-to-one care the patients are getting.”

The study was the first of its kind in the United Kingdom. The research results were published inThe British Journal of General Practice.