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Acupuncture Benefits Sufferers of Exophthalmos

By: Vanessa Vogel Batt L.Ac. MSOM

A 2011 PubMed study looked into the effects of acupuncture and acupoint massage to treat infiltrative exophthalmos. The study yielded some very positive results. The trial entitled, "Efficacy observation on infiltrative exophthalmos treated with acupuncture and acupoint massage," demonstrated the difference between using Oriental medicine versus western drug therapy.

Infiltrative exophthalmos is a medical condition which causes the eyeballs to bulge out of the sockets, giving the appearance of a 'bug-eyed' look. The cause is often, but not limited to, a form of hyperthyroidism, a state of inflammation and overproduction in the thyroid gland. Grave's disease is usually the culprit behind an overactive thyroid. Other symptoms of Grave's disease include anxiety and tremors, in addition to problems specifically targeting the eyes.

Researchers divided a total of 45 patients into two groups, a treatment one and a control one. 25 patients received acupuncture at points near the eyes and massage therapy on the face and back of the neck. The other 20 patients received a strictly western drug treatment consisting of various pharmacological drugs.

To measure the effectiveness of treatment in both groups, researchers measured the extent of the exophthalmos in each patient at the beginning and conclusion of their respective treatments. At the conclusion of the trial, researchers noted a statistically significant improvement in the condition of the treatment group. The combined use of acupuncture and massage to address infiltrative exophthalmos proved superior to the use of pharmaceutical drug therapy alone.

The ocular examinations showed the treatment group benefited from their therapy by showing an outstanding 83.3 percent improvement, compared to the control group who exhibited a 58.8 percent improvement in their condition. In addition, researchers also noted that the use of acupuncture and massage was safe and free of harmful side effects.


Xu, Wei-Ming & Guo, Yi-Hong & Chen, Bi-Xia. (2011). [Efficacy observation on infiltrative exophthalmos treated with acupuncture and acupoint massage]. Zhongguo zhen jiu = Chinese acupuncture & moxibustion. 31. 101-4.

Xia Y, Xia MZ, Li Y, Liu SM, Ju ZY, He JS. [Effect of aconite cake-separated moxibustion at Guanyuan (CV4) and Mingmen (GV 4) on thyroid function in patients of Hashimoto's thyroiditis]. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2012 Feb;32(2):123-6. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 22493914.

Zhou, J., Yang, L., Yu, J., Wang, Y. and Liu, Z. (2017). Efficacy of acupuncture on menstrual frequency in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Medicine, 96(47), p.e8828.

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About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.

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