Acupuncture may reduce itching

Introduction

Itching can be an associated symptom from many types of medical health conditions which may include nerve disorders, allergic reactions, viral rashes to name a few. Samuel Hafenreffer a physician from Germany in 1660 described an itch as;

 

 "an unpleasant sensation that elicits the desire to scratch".

According to this principle itching can be regarded as a spontaneous response to a weak variant of pain suggesting that pain and itching sensations have common receptors, mediators and neuronal pathways [1-2]. In this Health News article I will briefly discuss;

 

  1. Acupuncture an Alternative Approach

  2. What is Acupuncture?

  3. How it may Reduce Itching 

  4. Research Findings Overview

  5. Final Thoughts

 

1. Acupuncture an alternative approach

Skin creams commonly prescribed by doctors and cool water for example may help to alleviate a patient's itching symptoms to treat the underlying medical condition. However a systematic review suggests that acupuncture may also be an effective alternative approach for certain types of irritable skin conditions alongside conventional medicine [3-5].

 

2. What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture has been used for over 2,000 years. It involves the insertion of very fine sterile needles in the skin into specific nerves, muscles and connective tissue also known as acupuncture points. An acupuncturist inserts the very fine sterile needles at varying depths near to the symptoms (local points) and at distal points (forearms, hand and legs). The combination of acupuncture points will depend on the patient's condition which determines the mode of treatment for best practice to help restore balance [6-7]. 

 

3. How it may reduce itching

Research of acupuncture has proved to reduce certain types of chronic nociceptive pain which has gained significant popularity in western cultures as an alternative therapy. According to the research the peripheral mechanisms of acupuncture suggests that it helps to alleviate the intensity of the person's itching sensations by acting on both the peripheral and central nerve fibres and nerve transmitters conducting pain. Consequently similar qualities of irritable itching sensations like tingling or burning sensations may share the same pathways of pain [1-2, 8-12]. 

 

The stimulation through acupuncture points is suggested to interfere with the body's central and peripheral itch transmission which then helps to alleviate the reduction of itch sensations. By stimulating the deep sensory nerves in the body, medical research also suggests that this promotes the natural pain relieving chemicals (endorphins) and other substances. These substances, once released in the body can help with pain relief and assist the body to heal itself {13-19}. 

 

4. Research findings overview

Researchers reviewed the literature available to see if acupuncture is effective for treating itchy skin conditions and systemic diseases. Many studies they reviewed were omitted due to the lack of consistency of reliable data. However three trials were selected involving 70 participants to compare acupuncture to placebo and other conventional medical treatments. The researchers found that acupuncture did make a difference towards alleviating the intensity of symptoms of itching sensations. However due to the lack of data and consistency in the data the researchers recommended that more clinical trials are required to help substantiate the new evidence based findings {3}.

 

5. Final thoughts

Due to the lack of consistency and research data, more clinical trials are necessary to help substantiate the new evidence based findings. Nevertheless acupuncture did demonstrate that it may help towards reducing a person's intensity of itching symptoms so why not give acupuncture a try to day

 

As always thanks for reading this article, enjoy your sport. If you enjoyed reading this article you may enjoy reading the History of Acupuncture. 

         His knowledge of anatomy was incredible. ...The pain I experienced disappeared almost instantly after I left the treatment room and has been a lot better since... Thanks Nick!

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References

  1. Wallengren J. Neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of itch. Dermatol Ther 2005; 18: 292-303

  2. Ikoma A, Steinboff M, Stander S, Yosipovitch G, Schmelz M. The neurobiology of itch: Nat Rev Neurosci 2006; 7: 535-547.

  3. Yu C, Zhang P, Lv ZT, Li JJ, Li HP, Wu CH, Gao F, Yuan XC, Zhang J, He W, J XH, Li M. Efficacy of Acupuncture in Itch: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Randomised Controlled Trials - Accessed March 2016 hindawi.com                                                               Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Vol 2015 Article ID 208690,5 pgs http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2015/208690/abs/

  4. McHenry PM. Management of atopic eczema. BMJ 1995; 310:843-7.

  5. Poyner T. PCDS atopic eczema guidelines optimise GP management. Guidelines in Pract 2001: 4: 1-9.

  6. Gunn CC, Ditchburn FG, King MH, Renwick GJ. Acupuncture Ioci: a proposal for their classification according to their relationshipto known neural structures. Am J Chin Med 1976; 4: 183-195.

  7. Leung AY, Park J, Schulteis et al. The electrophysiology of de qi sensations. J Altern Complement Med 2006; 12: 743-750.

  8. Namer B, Carr R, Johanek LM, Schmelz M, Handwerker HO, Ringkamp M. Separate peripheral pathways for pruritus in man. J Neurophysiol 2008; 100: 2062-2069.

  9. Carlsson C, Sjolund B. Acupuncture and subtypes of chronic pain: assessment of long-term results. Clin J Pain 1994: 10: 290-295.

  10. Manheimer E, White A, Berman B, Forys K, Ernst E, Meta-analysis: acupuncture for low back pain. Ann Intern Med 2005; 142: 651-663.

  11. Linde K, Streng A, Jurgens S et al. Acupuncture for patients with migraine: a randomised controlled trial. JAMA 2005; 293: 2118-2125.

  12. Vickers AJ, Rees RW et al. Acupuncture for chronic headache in primary care large, pragmatic, randomised trial. BMJ 2004; 328: 744.

  13. Herde L, Forster C, Strupf M, Handwerker HO. Itch induced by a novel method leads to limbic deactivations a functional MRI study. J Neurophysiol 2007; 98: 2347-2356.

  14. Mochizuki H, Inui K, Tanabe HC et al. Time course of activity in itchrelated brain regions: a combined MEG-fMRI study. J Neurophysiol 2009; 102: 2657–2666.

  15. Leknes SG, Bantick S, Willis CM, Wilkinson JD, Wise RG, Tracey I. Itch and motivation to scratch: an investigation of the central and peripheral correlates of allergen- and histamine-induced itch in humans. J Neurophysiol 2007; 97: 415–422.

  16. Valet M, Pfab F, Sprenger T et al. Cerebral processing of histamineinduced itch using short-term alternating temperature modulation – an FMRI study. J Invest Dermatol 2008; 128: 426–433.

  17. Schneider G, Sta¨nder S, Burgmer M, Driesch G, Heuft G, Weckesser M. Significant differences in central imaging of histamine-induced itch between atopic dermatitis and healthy subjects. Eur J Pain 2008; 12: 834–841.

  18. Pfab F, Valet M, Sprenger T et al. Temperature modulated histamineitch in lesional and nonlesional skin in atopic eczema – a combined psychophysical and neuroimaging study. Allergy. 2009; 65: 84–94.

  19. Dhond RP, Kettner N, Napadow V. Neuroimaging acupuncture effects in the human brain. J Altern Complement Med 2007; 13: 603–616.

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