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Meta Analysis Finds Acupuncture Reduces Itchiness

By: Vanessa Vogel Batt L.Ac. MSOM

Pruritis is the nagging, persistent inclination to scratch one's skin. This overwhelming desire to alleviate the itch can occur on its own or as a consequence of skin disease.

In an effort to assuage this unpleasant feeling, researchers set out to discover whether acupuncture could provide relief.

A study called "Efficacy of Acupuncture in Itch: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Clinical Randomized Trials," published in the 2015 edition of Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, revealed exciting news for patients with itchy skin conditions.

Researchers sifted through 8 major databases and identified randomized control trials (RCTs) that matched acupuncture up against no treatment or placebo treatment. Three out of the more than 2,000 articles of RCTs were pulled and reviewed. To qualify, the trials had to be restricted to skin itch and include analysis methods explaining the degree and location of itchiness, such as the Eppendorf Itch Questionnaire and the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS).

The three-study meta-analysis focused on 35 study subjects and 35 controls--some of which had placebo acupuncture or no treatment. Antihistamine nor placebo acupuncture reduced itch or the brain's response to itch. But those receiving real acupuncture saw a significant reduction in itch and the impulse to scratch.

Researchers also found that combining acupuncture and electroacupuncture stimulation (electrical current flowing between two acupuncture needles) successfully treated itch when high frequencies were applied to affected dermatones, which are specific localities on the skin supplied by only one spinal nerve.

Contact an acupuncturist today to schedule an appointment or to learn more about acupuncture and Oriental medicine.

Source: Yu C., et al. (2015). Efficacy of Acupuncture in Itch: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Randomized Controlled Trials. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Retrieved from

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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