A 2017 meta-analysis, titled "A Systematic Review of Acupuncture for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome," revealed encouraging news for patients suffering from symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Published in the "Journal of Acupuncture Research", the study found that acupuncture treatment can significantly alleviate fatigue and pain.
Researchers evaluated the effectiveness and safety of using acupuncture therapy to treat fatigue in CFS patients. In this analysis, researchers scoured through 15 medical databases worldwide, specifically choosing studies that tested acupuncture as a lone treatment. Ultimately, 11 randomized, controlled trials (RCTs) were chosen, which included a total of 869 participants. Of the 11 RCTs, 9 were compared with sham acupuncture; the remaining 2 were compared to a wait-list group and medication group.
Researchers were able to evaluate the efficacy of treatment by observing several medical tools that were employed during the various trials. To evaluate the symptoms of chronic fatigue, the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) was used. This is a self-survey given to patients before and after treatment so there is an accurate measurement of symptoms on record.
Other self-survey tools included the Stress Response Inventory (SRI) and the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI). The SRI measures a patient's emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and somatic responses. The ISI rates the level of sleep quality for each patient.
The acupuncture point selection for the real acupuncture treatments varied across the trials--a total of 21 acupoints were used. It was noted that a point on the stomach meridian, the path that energy traverses, was the most highly utilized. The urinary bladder was the most frequently treated meridian.
It was determined that real acupuncture treatments, when compared to sham acupuncture, did significantly alleviate fatigue, reduce levels of pain, improve quality of life, and positively affect mood.
The study concluded with researchers affirming the outstanding results acupuncture plays in reducing extreme tiredness and alleviating pain for patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. Acupuncture was also noted for its safety, with no serious side effects reported.
Source: Kim HG, Ryoo DW, Jeong SM, et al. (2017). A Systematic Review of Acupuncture for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Journal of Acupuncture Research. Retrieved online at https://www.e-jar.org/journal/view.php?number=2367
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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.