Acupuncture with Moxibustion Helps BPH (Study)

By Chad Dupuis
Tagged in Acupuncture and Research

Acupuncture with or without herbal medicine is often used for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or an "enlarged prostate").  BPH is an incredibly common condition with about 50% of all men in their 50's having symptoms and around 90% of men over 80.  While symptoms will vary in severity the frequent urination at night which is common can disrupt sleep which contributes to other health issues.  There is no strong evidence that BPH contributes to prostate cancer (1), but it is still worth treating to improve quality of life and keep symptoms reduced or resolved completely.

This article isn't so much about the general treatment of BPH or discussing if Chinese Medicine is helpful or not in general clinical terms.  No, these issues have already been covered and we know that BPH is treatable with Chinese Medicine approaches.  But are there techniques which lead to better clinical effectiveness?  This article will explore a study looking at specific techniques from Chinese researchers that seemed to lead to better results than a standard acupuncture only approach.

In this study researchers compared the clinical effectiveness of the Qi Ci needling ("triple-puncture") acupuncture method at UB 54 combined with moxibustion to standard needling approaches.

For those not familiar with qi ci, or triple puncture needling methods, the technique involves needling your main point with ashi points to either side.  There are many ways to use these techniques but they are generally used to move qi and/or blood stagnation in area for issues arising from staganation and/or physical blockages such as cysts, etc.

In this study researchers used proper syndrome differentiation to choose appropriate acupuncture points (for example, bladder damp heat).  Points varied among the following with others depending on the diagnosis:

In the treatment group they used acupuncture with attached moxa stick segments and "bird-pecking" moxibustion at UB 54 bilaterally.  Patients were given 30 minute treatments, daily for 10 days, then 2 days of rest, then another 10 days of treatment.  Using the international prostate symptom score and quality of life score they measured the results.

They found that the treatment group received 20% higher numbers of people receiving "marked improvement" - with a total effective rate of 89%.  They concluded that "acupuncture plus moxibustion treatment is effective in improving BPH patients' micturation symptoms, which is superior to the simple acupuncture intervention."

With regards to the triple-puncture method, a couple other studies have shown strong effectiveness of this technique.

One, a study of stubborn tennis elbow using the triple-puncture technique at SI 11.  In that study researchers found a 31% increase in effectiveness rates compared with standard treatment methods - total effective rate was 71.9%.

Another, a study showed the three needle technique effects on piriformis syndrome.  In that study researchers found a 20% increase in effectiveness rates over standard needling methods - total effective rate was 87.8%.

While acupuncture often works quite well for a range of inflammatory and pain conditions.  It is of value for practitioners, even when getting good results, to explore better or more efficient ways to help our patients.  These studies are useful to expand our ideas of how quickly our patients should improve.



Acupuncture with Moxibustion Helps BPH (Study)

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Authored by: Chad Dupuis on 22 February 2016

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