Scientific Research: Acupuncture May Hold Potential for Treating Persistent Hives
A recent investigation involving more than 300 individuals suffering from chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU), commonly known as hives, has indicated that acupuncture could offer some relief from symptoms. However, the actual clinical significance of these findings remains uncertain. This study was recently published in the prestigious journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
CSU, characterized by persistent itching, skin eruptions, or swelling lasting over six weeks without specific triggering factors, is the most prevalent form of chronic hives. In fact, over 90 percent of CSU patients require urgent medical intervention to alleviate itching, making the management of this distressing symptom a primary goal in CSU treatment.
Acupuncture and Its Impact on CSU
Researchers from Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine conducted a randomized controlled trial involving 330 individuals diagnosed with CSU. These participants were assigned to receive one of three treatments: 4 weeks of acupuncture, 4 weeks of sham acupuncture, or placement on a waitlist (control group). Subsequently, the researchers monitored these patients for four weeks after treatment to assess whether acupuncture resulted in an improvement in CSU symptoms. The Weekly Urticaria Activity Score (UAS7) was used to measure changes in symptoms.
Patients in the acupuncture group reported a better UAS7 score compared to those in the sham acupuncture and waitlist control groups. However, it is crucial to note that the differences between the intervention and control groups did not meet the minimum clinically significant threshold, leaving the clinical relevance of the observed reductions in itch severity scores uncertain. It is worth mentioning that the acupuncture group exhibited the highest rate of adverse events, although these events were mild and temporary.
Editorial Insights and Broader Implications
An accompanying editorial authored by Mike Cummings from the British Medical Acupuncture Society highlights the intriguing aspect of these trial results: they explore the efficacy of acupuncture in a condition not primarily associated with pain.
Although the clinical significance of the findings remains unclear, Cummings suggests that healthcare professionals should remain open to the possibility of using acupuncture as an adjunctive therapy to influence outcomes, even in more severe medical conditions. The editorial underscores that acupuncture often goes overlooked as a treatment option due to its lack of commercial support compared to other contemporary interventions.
“Efficacy of Acupuncture for Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria” by Hui Zheng, Xian-Jun Xiao, Yun-Zhou Shi, Lei-Xiao Zhang, Wei Cao, Qian-Hua Zheng, Feng Zhong, Ping-Sheng Hao, Ying Huang, Ming-Ling Chen, Wei Zhang, Si-Yuan Zhou, Yan-Jun Wang, Chuan Wang, Li Zhou, Xiao-Qin Chen, Zuo-Qin Yang, Zi-Hao Zou, Ling Zhao, Fan-Rong Liang, and Ying Li, 14 November 2023, Annals of Internal Medicine.
“Acupuncture for Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria” by Mike Cummings, 14 November 2023, Annals of Internal Medicine.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Acupuncture for Chronic Hives
What is chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU)?
Chronic spontaneous urticaria, often referred to as CSU, is a condition characterized by persistent itching, skin lesions, or swelling that lasts for more than six weeks, and it typically occurs without any specific triggering factors.
What does the study reveal about acupuncture and CSU?
The study involving over 300 CSU patients suggests that acupuncture may offer some relief from symptoms. However, the clinical significance of these findings remains uncertain, as the observed improvements did not meet the minimum clinically significant threshold.
How was the study conducted?
Researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial in which 330 CSU patients were randomly assigned to receive four weeks of acupuncture, four weeks of sham acupuncture, or were placed on a waitlist (control group). Patients were then monitored for four weeks post-treatment to assess changes in their CSU symptoms.
What were the key findings of the study?
Patients in the acupuncture group reported improved scores on the Weekly Urticaria Activity Score (UAS7) compared to those in the sham acupuncture and control groups. However, these differences did not reach the threshold for clinical significance.
What insights does the accompanying editorial provide?
The editorial emphasizes that this study is noteworthy because it explores the potential efficacy of acupuncture in a condition not primarily characterized by pain. It encourages healthcare professionals to remain open to the adjunctive use of acupuncture in influencing outcomes, even in more serious medical conditions.
Are there any concerns about acupuncture treatment?
The study did note that the acupuncture group had the highest rate of adverse events, but these events were generally mild and temporary.
Where can I find the full research papers?
The full research papers are published in the Annals of Internal Medicine:
- “Efficacy of Acupuncture for Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria” by Hui Zheng, et al.
- “Acupuncture for Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria” by Mike Cummings.
More about Acupuncture for Chronic Hives
- Full Study: “Efficacy of Acupuncture for Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria”
- Full Editorial: “Acupuncture for Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria”