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Research on Chinese medicine and chronic fatigue

Last updated: 10 March, 2017
by Steven Clavey, Traditional Chinese Gynaecology

Acupuncture and moxibustion for chronic fatigue syndrome in traditional Chinese medicine: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

In the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome, combined acupuncture and herbal medicine and  single acupuncture or single moxibustion may have better effect than other treatments. However, the included trials have relatively poor quality, hence high quality studies are needed to confirm our finding.”

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017 Mar 23;17(1):163. doi: 10.1186/s12906-017-1647-x.

Wang T, Xu C, Pan K, Xiong H.

BACKGROUND: As the etiology of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is unclear and the treatment is still a big issue. There exists a wide range of literature about acupuncture and moxibustion (AM) for CFS in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). But there are certain doubts as well in the effectiveness of its treatment due to the lack of a comprehensive and evidence-based medical proof to dispel the misgivings. Current study evaluated systematically the effectiveness of acupuncture and moxibustion treatments on CFS, and clarified the difference among them and Chinese herbal medicine, western medicine and sham-acupuncture.

METHODS: We comprehensively reviewed literature including PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane library, CBM (Chinese Biomedical Literature Database) and CNKI (China National Knowledge Infrastructure) up to May 2016, for RCT clinical research on CFS treated by acupuncture and moxibustion. Traditional direct meta-analysis was adopted to analyze the difference between AM and other treatments. Analysis was performed based on the treatment in experiment and control groups. Network meta-analysis was adopted to make comprehensive comparisons between any two kinds of treatments. The primary outcome was total effective rate, while relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were used as the final pooled statistics.

RESULTS: A total of 31 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were enrolled in analyses. In traditional direct meta-analysis, we found that in comparison to Chinese herbal medicine, CbAM (combined acupuncture and moxibustion, which meant two or more types of acupuncture and moxibustion were adopted) had a higher total effective rate (RR (95% CI), 1.17 (1.09 ~ 1.25)). Compared with Chinese herbal medicine, western medicine and sham-acupuncture, SAM (single acupuncture or single moxibustion) had a higher total effective rate, with RR (95% CI) of 1.22 (1.14 ~ 1.30), 1.51 (1.31-1.74), 5.90 (3.64-9.56). In addition, compared with SAM, CbAM had a higher total effective rate (RR (95% CI), 1.23 (1.12 ~ 1.36)). In network meta-analyses, similar results were recorded. Subsequently, we ranked all treatments from high to low effective rate and the order was CbAM, SAM, Chinese herbal medicine, western medicine and sham-acupuncture.

CONCLUSIONS:

In the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome, combined acupuncture and herbal medicine and  single acupuncture or single moxibustion may have better effect than other treatments. However, the included trials have relatively poor quality, hence high quality studies are needed to confirm our finding.

 

Traditional Chinese medicine for chronic fatigue syndrome: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials.

TCM appears to be effective to alleviate the fatigue symptom for people with CFS.”

Complement Ther Med. 2014 Aug;22(4):826-33. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2014.06.004. Epub 2014 Jun 30.

Wang YY, Li XX, Liu JP, Luo H, Ma LX, Alraek T.

BACKGROUND: There is no curative treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is widely used in the treatment of CFS in China.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effectiveness and safety of TCM for CFS.

METHODS: The protocol of this review is registered at PROSPERO. We searched six main databases for randomized clinical trials (RCTs) on TCM for CFS from their inception to September 2013. The Cochrane risk of bias tool was used to assess the methodological quality. We used RevMan 5.1 to synthesize the results.

RESULTS: 23 RCTs involving 1776 participants were identified. The risk of bias of the included studies was high. The types of TCM interventions varied, including Chinese herbal medicine, acupuncture, qigong, moxibustion, and acupoint application. The results of meta-analyses and several individual studies showed that TCM alone or in combination with other interventions significantly alleviated fatigue symptoms as measured by Chalder’s fatigue scale, fatigue severity scale, fatigue assessment instrument by Joseph E. Schwartz, Bell’s fatigue scale, and guiding principle of clinical research on new drugs of TCM for fatigue symptom. There was no enough evidence that TCM could improve the quality of life for CFS patients. The included studies did not report serious adverse events.

CONCLUSIONS:

TCM appears to be effective to alleviate the fatigue symptom for people with CFS. However, due to the high risk of bias of the included studies, larger, well-designed studies are needed to confirm the potential benefit in the future.

Acupuncture for chronic fatigue syndrome and idiopathic chronic fatigue: a multicenter, nonblinded, randomized controlled trial

Body acupuncture for 4 weeks in addition to usual care may help improve fatigue in CFS and ICF patients.”

Altern Ther Health Med. 2013 Jul-Aug;19(4):21-6.

Jung-Eun Kim, Byung-Kwan Seo, Jin-Bong Choi, Hyeong-Jun Kim, Tae-Hun Kim, Min-Hee Lee, Kyung-Won Kang, Joo-Hee Kim, Kyung-Min Shin, Seunghoon Lee, So-Young Jung, Ae-Ran Kim, Mi-Suk Shin, Hee-Jung Jung, Hyo-Ju Park, Sung-Phil Kim, Yong-Hyeon Baek, Kwon-Eui Hong, and Sun-Mi Choi[corrauth.gif]

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This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

Background: The causes of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and idiopathic chronic fatigue (ICF) are not clearly known, and there are no definitive treatments for them. Therefore, patients with CFS and ICF are interested in Oriental medicine or complementary and alternative medicine. For this reason, the effectiveness of complementary and alternative treatments should be verified. We investigated the effectiveness of two forms of acupuncture added to usual care for CFS and ICF compared to usual care alone.

Methods: A three-arm parallel, non-blinded, randomized controlled trial was performed in four hospitals. We divided 150 participants into treatment and control groups at the same ratio. The treatment groups (Group A, body acupuncture; Group B, Sa-am acupuncture) received 10 sessions for 4 weeks. The control group (Group C) continued usual care alone. The primary outcome was the Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) at 5 weeks after randomization. Secondary outcomes were the FSS at 13 weeks and a short form of the Stress Response Inventory (SRI), the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), the Numeric Rating Scale (NRS), and the EuroQol-5 Dimension (EQ-5D) at 5 and 13 weeks.

Results: Group A showed significantly lower FSS scores than Group C at 5 weeks (P = 0.023). SRI scores were significantly lower in the treatment groups than in the control group at 5 (Group A, P = 0.032; B, P <0.001) and 13 weeks (Group A, P = 0.037; B, P <0.001). Group B showed significantly lower BDI scores than Group C at 13 weeks (P = 0.007). NRS scores from the treatment groups were significantly reduced compared to control at 5 (Group A and B, P <0.001) and 13 weeks (Group A, P = 0.011; B, P = 0.002).

Conclusions: Body acupuncture for 4 weeks in addition to usual care may help improve fatigue in CFS and ICF patients.

 

 

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