| Acupuncture May Help
Break Urinary Infection Cycle
Women who experience repeated bouts of
urinary tract infections (UTI) may want to try acupuncture to prevent
another episode, new study findings suggest.
Terje Alraek of the University of Bergen
in Norway and colleagues found that women with recurrent UTIs who
were treated with acupuncture were half as likely to have another
infection during the next 6 months as women who did not receive
"Our results, as well as previous findings,
indicate that acupuncture treatment may be effective in preventing
recurrent lower UTIs in healthy adult women," Alraek and colleagues
write in the October issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
"Acupuncture seems well worth trying
as a prophylactic treatment," Alraek told Reuters Health.
UTIs affect an estimated 11.3 million
women per year in the US alone, and around 6% of adult women experience
at least 3 bouts of the painful condition each year. UTIs are currently
treated using antibiotics; women who get UTIs especially frequently
take antibiotics to prevent UTIs before they strike, raising the
possibility that an unbroken cycle of recurrent UTIs could contribute
to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.
An ancient therapy that arose in China
more than 2,000 years ago, acupuncture involves placing fine needles
at specific points on the body's surface. Traditional theory holds
that these points connect with energy pathways, or meridians, that
run through the body, and acupuncture helps keep this natural energy
flow running smoothly.
Previous research has also suggested
that acupuncture may help stave off future UTIs in women who are
prone to them, reducing the rate of infection by up to two-thirds.
In the present study, Alraek and colleagues
investigated the benefits of acupuncture in a group of 94 women,
all of whom had experienced at least 3 UTIs during the previous
12 months. At least 2 of the infections were diagnosed and treated
as a UTI by a doctor.
Sixty-seven of the women received acupuncture
2 times per week for 4 weeks.
The authors found that 73% of the women
who received acupuncture remained infection-free during the 6 months
after treatment, relative to only 52% of those who did not receive
acupuncture. This difference translates into a 50% reduced risk
of experiencing another UTI during a 6-month period, Alraek and
Alraek told Reuters Health that the women treated with acupuncture
showed a 50% decrease in the urine left in their bladders after urinating,
while residual urine levels did not appear to change in those who
did not receive acupuncture. Residual urine is a risk factor for recurrent
Consequently, the researcher suggested
that acupuncture may treat women with recurrent UTIs by reducing
their levels of residual urine. "Ancient Chinese medical theory
would have used other terms to describe this change," Alraek noted.
"One possibility would be better circulation of qi (energy) in the
SOURCE: American Journal of Public
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