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Acupuncture With Moxa Found Effective For Insomnia

Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine researchers find acupuncture effective for the treatment of insomnia. Results were obtained by implementing a protocolized acupuncture point prescription combined with moxibustion and TDP heat lamp therapy. After one week of therapy, acupuncture with moxa and TDP produced a 67.5% total effective rate for the relief of insomnia. After two weeks, the total effective rate increased to 77.5%.

The researchers compared results with another treatment group receiving Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) herbal therapy. Participants in the herbal medicine group received of modified version of Gui Pi Tang or An Shen Ding Zhi Tang, dependent upon differential diagnostics. The herbal medicine group achieved a 32.5% total effective rate after one week. After two weeks, the herbal medicine group had a 52.5% total effective rate.

What we didn’t see in this research is a combination of acupuncture and herbal medicine. While the acupuncture group had a 77.5% total effective rate and the herbal medicine group had a 52.5% total effective rate, it would be clinically significant if a combination of the therapies produced additive or synergistic outcomes. Combining acupuncture and herbal medicine into a treatment protocol is common clinical practice for licensed acupuncturists. Given the positive patient outcomes in both groups, it is reasonable to continue the investigation to determine if the combination of therapies optimizes outcomes over specific data points.

The acupuncture group received treatments twice per week. Patients rested in a supine position during acupuncture therapy and the needle retention time was 30 minutes per session. The acupuncture point prescription used in the study for standard acupuncture needling was as follows:

  • DU20 (Baihui)

  • HT7 (Shenmen)

  • PC6 (Neiguan)

  • SP6 (Sanyinjiao)

The researchers note that prior research indicates that the acupuncture point selection used in the study is both safe and effective. Yang et al., in their investigation entitled Clinical Observation On Suspended Moxibustion At Baihui (DU20) For Insomnia, determined that DU20 and PC6 produce significant positive patient outcomes.

The TDP heat lamp was focused on acupoint KD1 (Yongquan) during the acupuncture treatments. TDP is an acronym for the Chinese term Teding Diancibo Pu, which refers to the electromagnetic spectrum emitted by the lamp. The TDP heat lamp, invented in 1978, generates far infrared emissions in the range of 2 – 50 micrometers. The lamp uses a combination of 33 trace elements on a plate mounted over a heating element to achieve its specific range of emissions. No ionizing radiation is produced by the TDP heat lamp.

Moxibustion was applied to acupoints CV6 (Qihai) and CV4 (Guanyuan) with a two hole moxa box. A single hole moxa box was used to apply moxa to DU20. The use of moxa in the study was based, in part, by the prior work of Xu in the investigation entitled The Application Of Moxibustion In Treating 79 Patients With Insomnia. Xu tested the efficacy of moxibustion for the treatment of insomnia. Mild moxibustion on DU20 and KD1 produced significant positive patient outcomes when applied for 15 minutes prior to retiring to bed. Of the 79 patients in the study, 50 patients achieved very significant treatment results, 26 patients had effective treatment results, and only 3 patients had little to no results. Based on the findings of Xu, moxibustion was included in the acupuncture research protocol by the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine researchers to enhance clinical outcomes.

In the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine study, the herbal medicine group participants received one of two herbal formulas for oral intake based on differential diagnostics. A modified version of Gui Pi Tang was administered for patients with heart and spleen deficiency. A modified version of An Shen Ding Zhi Tang was administered for patients with heart and gallbladder qi deficiency. A decoction was made from fresh herbs each day, divided into two parts, and was administered in two servings, one in the morning and one at night.