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Press releases

5th September 2018

A cardiologist from the Netherlands who combines acupuncture with traditional medicine is among a host of international speakers who will gather in Coventry later this month for the British Acupuncture Council’s annual conference.

Dr Fokke Jonkman will talk about new paradigms in cardiology and will present a series of case studies demonstrating how he incorporates acupuncture into his work at the cardiology hospital he runs in the Netherlands, Cardiologie Heelsum.

In particular, he will focus on how acupuncture can be used as part of an integrated approach in patients with treatment-resistant atrial fibrillation (AF). He will discuss the particular mechanisms of action of acupuncture and the value of this integrated approach.

In 2013, following the publication of a research paper in the BMJ, Dr Jonkman called for additional clinical research to further determine the mechanism of action of acupuncture and establish its place in the integrative treatment of AF.

GPs and other clinicians should consider prescribing acupuncture to treat chronic pain in order to reduce death rates from opioid addiction, according to the British Acupuncture Council.

Head of research, Mark Bovey, was responding to calls by the Scottish Government’s lead clinician, Professor Blair Smith, for more ‘rational prescribing’ of opioids.

Research by Professor Smith has revealed that prescriptions for ‘strong’ opioids in Scotland, including fentanyl, morphine and oxycodone more than doubled between 2003 and 2012 to more than 1 million a year. The number of drug-related deaths in Scotland rose to a record 934 in 2017.

 

16th July 2018
Elderly patients with co-morbidities should be referred for regular acupuncture sessions to help reduce pressure on the NHS, the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) says.


The comments follow a systematic review, published in BMJ Open, which showed that continuity of care resulted in ‘significantly fewer deaths’ among patients and halved the risk of an emergency hospital admission.
The BAcC claims that the ‘continuity of patient-centred care’ provided by regular acupuncture, delivered by the same practitioner, over a considerable period of time helps relieve symptoms, reduce medication and improve wellbeing of elderly patients, therefore reducing their risk of hospital admission.


Mark Bovey, research manager at the BAcC, says there is significant evidence suggesting acupuncture is effective in relieving pain in conditions such as back pain, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and other musculoskeletal complaints and acupuncturists could be playing a much bigger role: 'National health services across the developed world are struggling to cope with increasing numbers of old people with chronic illnesses. Conventional health and social care resources are overstretched and polypharmacy is rife, with its attendant side effects and interaction complications. Acupuncture could offer a useful additional resource.'
He highlights a report, Long-Term Acupuncture Therapy for Low-Income Older Adults with Multimorbidity: A Qualitative Study of Patient Perceptions, which was carried out in California last year and published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.


The qualitative study, which involved 15 patients aged 60 years and older suffering from at least two chronic conditions, showed that a substantial number of participants were able to reduce their medication and maintain physical and mental health. In addition, they developed a strong trust in the clinic’s ability to support the totality of their health as individuals, which they contrasted to the specialised and impersonal approach of conventional medicine.
'What is perhaps most interesting,' Bovey comments, 'is how the acupuncture clinic became the main health hub for these people. They were diagnosed and treated, there was social and emotional support, practical advice and referral to other community resources. This was a one-stop, holistic service, the sort of coordinated care model that the NHS is striving for, and patients yearning for.'

The British Acupuncture Council has welcomed a study, published in JAMA this week, which showed that women experiencing side effects of breast cancer treatment benefited from acupuncture.

Women taking aromatase inhibitors, which block the production of estrogen, in the early stages of breast cancer can often experience joint pain.

But this latest study, which was carried out by researchers at New York Presbyterian and included 226 post-menopausal women, demonstrated ‘statistically significant but modest improvements’ in the group that received true acupuncture, as opposed to a sham treatment or no treatment at all.

The president of the Italian Federation of Acupuncture Societies (F.I.S.A) has questioned the validity of a recent study which suggested that acupuncture did not improve the rate of live births among women undergoing IVF.

The study, Effect of Acupuncture vs Sham Acupuncture on Live Births Among Women Undergoing In Vitro Fertilization by Caroline A. Smith et al., was published in the Journal of the Americal Medical Association (JAMA) in May.

In a letter to the journal's editor, Carlo Maria Giovanardi, MD, has branded the research 'invalid' due to the lack of a 'true control group'.

He claims that sham acupuncture, which the researchers used as a control to compare with traditional acupuncture, is not 'an inert placebo', as the study suggests, but, on the contrary, could itself have a positive impact on pregnancy rates.

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