Dec 122013


Electroacupuncture and Multiple Sclerosis- Earlier this year, I wrote about acupuncture and Multiple Sclerosis. The post received some negative feedback in both the comments and on social network sites like Reddit. Alternative therapies are bound to be controversial, however that isn’t a reason not to discuss them. I read a paper today regarding Electroacupuncture and MS. The paper , “provides evidence that electroacupuncture can significantly improve the quality of life of such patients.” Academic evidence of a therapy which can improve quality of life for people with MS deserves to be talked about in an open forum so that each individual can make their own determinations and decisions.

The paper, “Impact of electroacupuncture on quality of life for patients with Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis under treatment with immunomodulators: A randomized study,” by Juan G Quispe-Cabanillas et al, was published in 2012 in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. I won’t re-write the paper here, but here are some interesting points/highlights from the article:


Our aim was thus to study the effect of electroacupuncture on the QOL of patients with RRMS undergoing treatment with immunomodulators, using standardized questionnaires to evaluate these effects.

All patients were receiving conventional treatment for RRMS, which involves a self-administered daily injection of interferon beta 1-a or interferon beta 1-b, and this treatment was continued throughout the present study.

The protocol consisted of 30 minutes of electroacupuncture (either true or sham) once a week for six consecutive months

After 6 months of treatment, however, the group receiving the SEA (sham electro acupuncture) had shown somewhat more deterioration, although the difference between the two groups only approached significance (3.3 vs 2.2; p = 0.055). Nevertheless, when including the effect of duration of treatment using the ANOVA test, there was a significant interaction effect, with the patients receiving the sham treatment receiving higher (worse) scores than those receiving true electroacupuncture.

In addition to the actual results of the study, the participants in the TEA group  (true electroacupuncture)reported various improvements, such as better sleep and appetite and reduced incontinence and constipation.

This paper provides evidence that electroacupuncture can significantly improve various domains of the QOL of MS patients, especially pain.

The paper does not demonstrate that this treatment will work for all who have MS and the study was limited to those who have been diagnosed with RRMS. While the article demonstrates electroacupuncture can be of benefit to some with RRMS, anyone considering treatment should consult a healthcare professional before doing so. I’ve had electroacupuncture myself and found it helped, specifically with numbness. Also, like the test subjects, I inject the interferon based drug Copaxone once daily. It is also important for me to note that my wife is an acupuncturist as I could have bias.

I would encourage anyone with RRMS to click the link to the paper above and read and evaluate the information presented for themselves.

Please leave a comment! Even if you disagree!


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