Study: Acupuncture Effective for Endometriosis: Study Results and Clinical Experience
My experience using acupuncture for endometriosis
A very common ailment I treat in my acupuncture practice is endometriosis.
Sometimes women come in with an actual diagnosis based on a laparoscopy; other times it’s just suspected based on their severe pain which might be just around their period, or in bad cases commonly causes various symptoms throughout their cycle.
It’s a condition for which unfortunately western medicine just doesn’t have great treatment options.
I’ve seen women who have bowel, urinary, ovulatory, and digestive function all affected due to the lesions that are growing all throughout their abdominal cavity; and usually when it’s this severe, these are the women who have symptoms not only all month long, but then have absolutely disabling pain with their actual period.
Luckily, in almost 100% of my cases, I see dramatic improvement if not complete resolution of their symptoms.
Prognosis and Acupuncture Treatment Plan
Just to be totally honest and to give a reality check — in these women who are the most severe cases, I’ve often worked with them for close to a year to alleviate their symptoms. Often these are the women who have already had surgery to remove the lesions, but they just immediately grew back (which is not atypical).
On the bright side though, usually the mid/off cycle symptoms start improving the very first month. So even the most serious cases typically get quick relief of much of their discomfort.
And in those horrible cases it’s usually around cycle 3 that the menstrual pain starts noticeably improving.
I like to be very honest again and let women know that most patients will go through one worse cycle, most commonly month 2, where their pain is increased and the blood seems much worse. In that cycle, they’ll see all that old stuck blood coming out, so it’s common for them to get huge ugly clumps of dark — if not black — tissue/blood coming out. And the uterus is working hard contracting to expel all that old gunk, so they have increased cramps. But after that bad cycle, that’s when cramps really start improving.
So even though I might have to work with a woman over the course of several cycles, she’s still getting great alleviation of her symptoms throughout that time. Often, those later months are just using herbs, so she’s not having to come in for regular treatment that entire time.
Study results of Acupuncture for endometriosis
This particular report cites a study where acupuncture was found to be more effective than hormone medication therapy for endometriosis. The acupuncture “relieves menstrual pain due to endometriosis, reduces the size of pelvic masses, lowers CA125 levels, and reduces the recurrence rate of endometriosis. CA125 a is biomarker for several types of cancer and benign conditions including endometriosis and menstrual disorders.”
“Patients receiving acupuncture achieved a 92.0% total effective rate. Patients receiving mifepristone achieved a 52.0% total effective rate”.
Also relapse rates showed better results for acupuncture as well: “One year follow-up examinations determined that the recurrence rate for the group receiving drug therapy was 36%. By comparison, the group receiving acupuncture had an endometriosis recurrence rate of 20%”.
In general, because of the tendency for the endometrial lesions to recur, in my practice I encourage my patients to stay on some level of maintenance treatment, which might just mean coming in monthly around their cycle, or taking herbs during their period to help the body fully expel the endometrial lining.
Participants in Study: Blood Stasis diagnosis
In Chinese medicine there are many underlying reasons for why a person may come in with a particular diagnosis. That means that each person with the same western disease might be given completely different diagnoses from an acupuncture perspective.
The diagnostic requirement for inclusion in this study was what we call “Blood Stasis”. In the case of endometriosis — since by definition what endometriosis IS is accumulating blood/endometrial tissue — ALL endometriosis patients have blood stasis.
However, blood stasis is ALWAYS just what we call a “branch diagnosis”, in other words, there’s some kind of root problem causing the blood stasis. The real gem of Chinese medicine (at least how it was designed to be practiced…unfortunately this is going away in modern day) is that those of us who try to stick with the original ways of using the medicine, always address that root underling imbalance as well. In other words, we’re getting to the causative factor.
When we get to the causative factor, and continue to work over time through maintenance, then I see fabulous responses with my patients and very low incidences of relapse.
If you’re unnecessarily suffering from endometriosis, I’d love the opportunity to help you! You can schedule an appointment using the button below.