New research demonstrates that acupuncture enhances the therapeutic effect of Chinese herbal medicine for the treatment of endometriosis. A laboratory investigation using rats revealed synergistic biochemical improvements when both acupuncture and herbal medicine were combined. Five groups were compared in the study: a model group, a group only receiving pharmaceutical medication for the treatment of endometriosis, a group receiving acupuncture with Chinese herbal medicine, a group receiving only Chinese herbal medicine, a sham control group. The acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicine showed marked improvements over the other groups including better outcomes than the group receiving the medicine Danazol, which is a synthetic derivative of a modified from of progesterone.
The study provides readers with a basic understanding of endometriosis as a backdrop for importance of the investigation. The researchers note that endometriosis is the presence of endometrial tissue outside the uterus that may cause pelvic pain, dysmenorrhea and infertility. The study notes that endometriosis affects 10% of all reproductive aged women and is present in up to 70% of all women with infertility or chronic pelvic pain.
Several blood factors are markers for endometriosis: CA-125 (cancer antigen 125), COX-2 mRNA (cyclooxygenase-2 mRNA), IL-18 (interleukin 18). The acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicine group bested all other groups in lowering IL-8 levels in the peritoneal fluids. The acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicine group and the drug group equally showed a clinical lowering of COX-2 mRNA expression in the ectopic endometrium. The drug group and the acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicine group equally showed a marked and significant drop in CA-125.
Acupuncture & Herbs Shop Talk
The acupuncture points used in the study were CV4 (Guanyuan), SP6 (Sanyinjiao), ST36 (Zusanli), UB23 (Shenshu) and DU14 (Dazhui). CV4 is traditionally used to tonify the Qi, benefit the essence and Kidneys, nourish the Spleen, benefit the uterus, enhance fertility and to benefit the Bladder and Small Intestine channels and organs. Indications for CV4 include infertility, abnormal uterine bleeding and amenorrhea. CV4 is the Front Mu point of the Small Intestine and is the meeting point of the Ren channel with the Spleen, Liver and Kidney channels. SP6 is the meeting point of the three lower Yin channels and traditionally functions to strengthen the Spleen, transform dampness, spread the Liver Qi and benefit the Kidneys. Indications for SP6 include abdominal pain and distention, dysmenorrhea, irregular menstruation, abnormal uterine bleeding, leukorrhea, prolapse of the uterus and infertility. SP6 is also useful to facilitate delivery for women with a difficult or delayed labor and is helpful in the treatment of insomnia. ST36 is a He Sea point, an Earth point and is designated as the Lower He Sea of the Stomach and a Sea of Nourishment point. ST36 is one of the eleven Heavenly Star points and is the Command Point for the treatment of abdominal disorders. UB23 is the Kidney Back Shu point. DU14 is the at the intersection of all Yang channels and powerfully relieves toxic heat, releases exterior pathogenic conditions, opens the Yang, clears the brain and calms the spirit.
The Chinese herbal medicine formula used in the study consisted of Mu Li, Huang Qin, Chi Shao, Jiang Huang, Chai Hu, Bai Zhu, Dan Shen, Yi Yi Ren and Xia Ku Cao. The latin names for these herbs are: Concha Ostreae, Radix Scutellariae, Radix Paeoniae Rubra, Rhizoma Curcumae, Radix Bupleuri, Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae, Radix Salviae Miltiorrhizae, Semen Coicis, Spica Prunellae. Mu Li nourishes the Yin and anchors the Liver Yang. Mu Li is often used to soften hardness to assist in dissolving nodules. Huang Qin clears heat and dries dampness for both the upper and lower burners. Notably, Huang Qin has the special function of calming the fetus and preventing miscarriages. Chi Shao cools the Blood and invigorates the Blood in the uterus. Jiang Huang, turmeric, is commonly used in culinary cuisine and it breaks Blood stasis and promotes the menstrual flow. Jiang Huang is useful in the treatment of many types of pain including dysmenorrhea, joint pain, shoulder pain, arm pain, pain due to trauma and pain of the hypochondrium. Chai Hu releases the exterior in the treatment of Shaoyang disorders, smoothes the Liver Qi and raises the Yang. Bai Zhu dries dampness and tonifies Qi. Dan Shen invigorates and cools the Blood. Yi Yi Ren promotes urination and Xia Ku Cao clears Liver Fire, brightens the eyes and dissolves phlegm nodules.