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Effects of Acupuncture on Rheumatoid Arthritis

By: Vanessa Vogel Batt L.Ac. MSOM

The therapeutic value of combining electro-stimulation with acupuncture for treating rheumatoid arthritis was proved in a 2011 study published in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine called "Effect of electro-acupuncture (EA) on tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF-a) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in peripheral blood and joint synovia of patients with rheumatoid arthritis."
The study was to determine how electro-acupuncture (EA) can lower the levels of certain cells and proteins that affect the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. The study measured TNF-a cells, which contribute to inflammation, and VEGF proteins, which stimulate new blood vessel growth that increases the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Researchers concluded that electro-acupuncture is a valuable therapy for reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis by lowering VEGF and TNF-a levels. Out of 63 study participants, 32 patients in the treatment group received EA, while another 31 patients in the control group underwent acupuncture not specifically related to their condition. All patients received approximately 30 treatments in total. Although both groups experienced a drop in their TNF-a and VEGF levels, the treatment group showed a significant lowering of their VEGF levels.

Source:  Ouyang, B., Gao, J., Che, J. et al. Effect of Electro-acupuncture on Tumor Necrosis Factor-a and Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor in Peripheral Blood and Joint Synovia of Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine (2011) 17: 505.

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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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