Acupuncture May Relieve Cramps

March 9, 2010

A spanking new study just published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology says that acupuncture may do more to relieve the pain of menstrual cramps than either herbal or conventional medications. The South Korean study reviewed data from 27 earlier studies. The total number of participants was close to 3,000 women.

Convincing Evidence

The study authors from Kyung Hee University Medical Center in South Korea commented, "There is convincing evidence on the effectiveness of using acupuncture to treat pain as it stimulates the production of endorphins and serotonin in the central nervous system. Compared with pharmacological treatment or herbal medicine, acupuncture was associated with a significant reduction in pain."

Medical experts say that menstrual cramps affect about 50% of all young women. Besides the painful cramps, there may be other unpleasant symptoms that come with menstruation, such as headache, dizziness, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, and bloating. Most doctors recommend palliative treatments including painkillers and applied heat. Exercise may also be beneficial. In terms of natural remedies, nutritional supplements that contain vitamins B1 and E, calcium, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids, have been purported to have a positive effect on such symptoms.

Energy Flow

The ancient Chinese medical treatment known as acupuncture, has been around for centuries. Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles at certain points along the body to allow energy to flow to these points. The South Korean researchers believe that acupuncture works by causing slight changes within the nervous system and in brain activity.

The World Health Organization has recognized acupuncture as an efficacious treatment for a variety of conditions including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), lower back pain, depression, and migraines. With the data from this new study, we now know that acupuncture can also help to relieve the severe pain of menstrual cramps. This is very promising news since earlier studies had shown mixed results regarding the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating menstrual cramps.

Pediatric Patients

Meanwhile, researchers at Illinois' Rush University Medical Center are jumping onto the bandwagon to provide pediatric patients with acupuncture for pain management. Young girls with menstrual cramps would fall within this category. Experts say that the lack of pain management options is the most difficult issue that arises in treating pediatric patients with around 70% of all pediatric patients experiencing pain but not receiving sufficient help in relieving or preventing pain symptoms. "Acupuncture could be a potential solution to this dilemma of controlling pain in pediatric patients," says Angela Johnson, a Chinese medicine practitioner at Rush Medical Center.

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