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Q:  I have been suffering from mouth ulcers for many years. I have been referred to the hospital but they just sent me away saying there was nothing they could do. The ulcers are not always in the same place in my mouth, and I very rarely have a time where there isn't at least one active. Most of them I can live with however the occasional few in an awkward place really bring me down. I read somewhere that acupuncture may help, is this true? 

 

A:  Mouth ulcers are, like all problems on the head, very difficult to put out of one's mind.
 
There is some evidence from small studies in China such as
 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16541857
 
and
 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16318148
 
that acupuncture may be of benefit. Indeed the first of these two studies is very much within the framework of Chinese medicine, specifying as it does a particular energetic disturbance as the cause of the mouth ulcers. Overall, however, there simply haven't been enough studies for anyone to draw conclusions about how successful acupuncture treatment might be.
 
This is one of the conditions, in fact, where most practitioners will probably fall back on the underlying premise of the older systems of Chinese medicine, that a system in balance did not generate symptoms, and work on the basis of re-establishing balance to eradicate symptoms. If this is what they choose to do, then it is very important to set clear outcome measures and review periods in place. Many people enjoy the encounter with their acupuncturist and can sometimes forget that they have been for ten sessions without any discernible change.  That said, there are one of two specific energetic disturbances where it is possible that acupuncture treatment mght have a direct effect, and it would be well worthwhile visiting a BAcC member local to you for face to face advice.
 
  

 

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