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Acupuncture may reduce itching

Acupuncture may Reduce Itching


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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  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                                                               Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Vol 2015 Article ID 208690,5 pgs

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  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.

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