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Randomized controlled clinical trials of acupuncture treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome




Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2009 Apr;34(2):120-4.


Randomized controlled clinical trials of acupuncture treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome.


Wang JJ, Song YJ, Wu ZC, Chu XO, Wang QM, Wang XJ, Wei LN, Meng H, Wang XH. Institute of Acu-moxibustion, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing 100700, China. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



OBJECTIVE: To observe the effect of acupuncture on the fatigue degree in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).


METHODS: Seventy CFS patients were equally randomized into control and treatment groups according to randomized block design. Acupuncture was applied to Baihui (GV 20), Danzhong (CV 17), Zhongwan (CV 12), etc., for patients in treatment group, and to non-acupoints (2 cm respectively to the abovementioned acupoints) for those in control group. The treatment was given once every other day, 14 times altogether. The fatigue degree and the therapeutic effect were assessed by Chalder's fatigue scale (FS).


RESULTS: A total of 64 cases (32/group) were finished in this study. After the treatment, the physical FS (5.0 +/- 2.4 vs 6.8 +/- 1.5), mental FS (1.8 +/-1.8 vs 3.1 +/- 1.5) and the total FS (6.8 +/- 3.8 vs 9.9 +/- 2.5) in treatment group, physical FS (5.0 +/- 2.5 vs 6.4 +/- 1.5) and the total FS (7.5 +/- 3.4 vs 9.6 +/- 2.8) in control group decreased significantly compared with pre-treatment (P < 0.01, P < 0.05). There was no marked change in mental FS (2.5 +/- 11.6 vs 3.2 +/- 11.6) in control group after the treatment (P > 0.05). Comparison between two groups showed no significant differences in the 3 indexes (P > 0.05).


CONCLUSION: Acupuncture can relieve CFS patients' physical and mental fatigue and the therapeutic effect of acupuncture of acupoints is relatively better than that of non-acupoints in reducing mental fatigue.


PMID: 19685727 [PubMed - in process]



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  • This study provides some evidence that genuine acupuncture is more effective than sham acupuncture - in this case inserting needles incorrectly according to acupoint location. The number of participants in the study was relatively small but the results were statistically significant; a vital point in medical research. Acupuncture may therefore help relieve both physical and mental fatigue in those with chronic fatigue syndrome.

    Related article: Another recent study found that acupuncture may work in pain relief by increasing the binding of opioids to their receptors in the brain. Opioids can be drugs such as morphine and codeine, or chemicals produced by the body such as endorphins and enkephalins. This research may be particularly important for fibromyalgia patients. Read more - Chinese acupuncture boosts painkiller effectiveness in fibromyalgia.

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