Acupuncture & Multiple Sclerosis
Studies show that, when used in conjunction with other modalities, acupuncture can provide effective relief for many MS symptoms.
Because MS damages myelin in the central nervous system, the disease interferes with messages between the body and the brain. Acupuncture can mediate the effects of this disease because it releases endorphins and peptides in the brain, which modulate sensory information between the brain and body.
In a survey conducted by the MS Clinic at the University of British Columbia, 566 patients with definite MS reported using alternative therapies, with acupuncture being the most common method used. The rest of the questionnaire focused on the reported effects of acupuncture, with respondents citing reduced pain, decreased spasticity, improved bladder and bowel dysfunction, and alleviating tingling and numbness, among others.
Dr. Duong Hoang reports a study of 40 victims of MS who were treated with acupuncture. According to the study, "MS patients that had been suffering for a lesser number of years improved even before the completion of 10 acupuncture treatments."
In one case, a 53-year-old Caucasian female had been suffering from MS for 15 years. She had been confined to a wheelchair because of parethesias on both legs, loss of balance and weakness. She also had optic neuritis, insomnia, bladder control difficulties, low back pain, muscle spasms and nervousness. After 10 acupuncture treatments, the patient was able to walk – sometimes without a cane. Her vision, sleep, muscle spasms, and general health improved, and her bladder control became normal again.
Another member of Hoang’s study was a 42-year-old man who had also suffered from MS for 15 years. He had to use a cane to walk because of parethesias on the left side of his body, and also suffered from poor vision and equilibrium, low back pain, and trouble choking on foods. He had also been sexually impotent for nine years and experienced problems with bladder control. After the first acupuncture treatment, the patient had no more problems swallowing food. After the third treatment, his bladder and vision functioned normally. After six treatments, his impotence was improved and after nine treatments he was able to walk without a cane.
Some patients have even come forward of their own accord to testify how acupuncture has helped them deal with MS. Duane Perron has had Progressive-Relapsing MS since 1978. The treatments he tried - a mixture of ACTH and Cyclospasmal – could only keep his MS from getting worse for five years. Perron’s MS was concentrated on the entire left side of his body; the optic nerve in his left eye did not function and he had no hearing in his left ear. He also had trigeminal neuralgia on the left side of his face and could not lift his left foot.
Perron decided to try acupuncture for his MS. After two months, he could hardly believe the results. His testimony on acupunctue.com states, "My wife and I went grocery shopping and as we left the store I said to her, ‘Stay behind me and watch how I walk.’ She did and she said, ‘You are taking much larger steps, you are lifting up your left leg not dragging it, and you are standing up straight!’"
Perron went on to say, "Then that Wednesday I had an appointment with my eye doctor for a six-month checkup and he said to me, ‘I don't know the reason, but in all the tests run today, the parameters on the results have at least doubled. That should not occur but it did!’ I also have cut down on the medication I was taking for trigeminal neuralgia from four tablets a day to one tablet a day."
Perron also wrote that the most exciting result of his acupuncture treatments was that he and his wife could now "walk through the beach sand to the water and waded in the water and waves a number of times each day. Now, I haven't been able to walk in the sand at a beach or let waves hit my legs for at least 12 years! But I did that week, and I did it bare-footed without my brace, just my cane for balance."
Larger studies also report the benefits of acupuncture for MS. According to a study conducted by the Washington Acupuncture Centre in which 10,000 patients were treated and tracked for three years, patients with MS significantly improved by 85 percent.
Resource: Carie Elizabeth Sklar, Pacific College of Oriental Medicine
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