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Acupuncture to treat Alzheimer’s: Results of a pilot feasibility study

NB Emerson Lombardo, L Vehvilainen, WL Ooi, L Volicer, G Xu, C McManus,
M Dresser, S Lewis, C Laughlin, Wellesley College Center for Research on
Women, Wellesley, MA

Acupuncture, a core component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is becoming
recognized as an effective mode of treatment for many chronic ailments including
depression, pain, addiction and stroke, with virtually no side effects in competent
hands. One recent Chinese matched controlled study of Vascular Dementia (VD)
using Western diagnoses and outcome measures showed substantial and statistically
significant improvements in cognition. As yet, no published report exists of a
randomized clinical trial (RCT) of the effects of acupuncture on Alzheimer’s Disease
(AD), vascular or other dementias.

Analysis of data from the Wellesley small feasibility study (no controls) demonstrated
that acupuncture is feasible for American AD and VD subjects. All 11 subjects, 10
with AD and 1 with VD, completed at least 22 treatments during a three month, twice
a week, acupuncture intervention. We found statistically significant ( p < .05)
improvements in mean depressive and anxious mood symptoms, confirmed with
multiple measures, including the Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia,
Spielberger State Anxiety Scale, the tension subscale of the Profile of Mood States
and the Anxiety subscale for the SF-36. These subjects also experienced insignificant
cognitive decline, from an average Mini-mental Status Exam (MMSE) score of 21.9
to 21.3. Two of four subjects who experienced substantial improvement in mood
symptoms also improved in MMSE scores (from 15 to 20 and 17 to 21) and in some
of the other cognitive measures. A third improved in tests of fluency and naming
ability, while MMSE scores remained stable.

In addition, we found statistically significant improvements in subjects’ energy or
vitality, listening ability, and sociability, based on caregiver report. There was also a
trend towards fewer mood-related behavioral symptoms. In the realm of ADL and
IADL functioning, while there was no statistically significant decline, there was a
suggestion that the trend was toward decline rather than improvement.

Table 1: Result of Paired T-Tests of Anxiety,Depression and Cognition Measures

N=11

Anxiety Depression Cognition

POMS Spielberger Cornell GDS MMSE BNT FAS

Baseline Mean 8.8 49.5 (8.4) 6.4 (5.0) 7.4 (3.9) 21.9 50.8 25.4
(S.D.) (6.3) (5.2) (19.8) (17.1)

Post Test Mean 4.6 40.1 (8.0) 3.1 (3.0) 6.7 (7.0) 21.3 48.0 25.5
(S.D.) (3.4) (4.9) (19.1) (17.9)

p value Paired 0.050 0.005 0.011 0.358 .646 .588 .968
T test*

*One-tailed test for mood (predicted improvement) Two-tailed in cognition (no prediction)
Efficacy Study of Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs for HIV Treatment

Neal Miller, L. Ac., Studio City Oriental Medical Center
Jin Lin Wang, L. Ac., M.D. (China), Oriental Medical Center

Abstract. This study investigates the efficacy of Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs in
the treatment of HIV. Building upon two previous investigations, we wanted to add
acupuncture with herbs in the study and to use HIV-RNA tests as a measure. Other
measures consisted of CD4/CD8 counts, clinical evaluations of symptoms (low-grade
fever, night sweats, body weight change, diarrhea, sore throat, fatigue,
stress/depression and skin rash). These measures were assessed before treatment and
at 4, 8, 12 and 24 weeks into treatment. Also, before treatment and then once every
month of treatment, we had a chemistry panel assessed for each study participant.

Treatment consisted of twice weekly, 30 minute acupuncture sessions and two herbal
formulas. One formula addressed immune system improvement and the other was an
antiviral formula. Both formulas remained static throughout the study.

Forty-six patients completed the 24-week treatment. Overall, they experienced
considerable improvement in or disappearance of symptoms. Seventy percent of
patients gained weight.

Upon completing their participation, 67 percent of the patients (No. = 31) had stable
or increased (Mean of 108.16 points) CD4 counts. Thirty-three percent (No. = 15)
experienced decreased CD4 counts (Mean of -114.4 points).

Sixty-one percent of the patients (No. = 28) decreased (Mean of -1.01 log) or
remained the same in viral load. Thirty-nine percent (No. = 18) experienced increased
viral load (Mean of +0.74 log).

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs created no side effects in HIV patients. It was
concluded that acupuncture and Chinese herbs may be an effective alternative for HIV
patients desiring to delay conventional HAART treatment or for whom the HAART
treatment has failed. Further study may demonstrate that acupuncture and Chinese
herbs increase the effectiveness of present HAART treatment when used
complimentarily.

A Chinese Herbal Compound for the Treatment of Hepatitis C

U. Beyendorff, Hennepin County Medical Center, Department of Medicine,
Division of Alternative Medicine, Minneapolis, MN

Approximately 3.9 million Americans are infected with Hepatitis C and there are
28,000 new cases reported each year, and 8,000 – 10,000 deaths occur annually.
Studies suggest HCV will be the major cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer in the next
century, and the number of deaths could triple in the next 10 to 20 years. One quarter
of sufferers of HCV are symptomatic with fatigue, joint pains, brain fog, mild GI
distress and report significant reduction of quality of life. In Asia, sufferers of viral
hepatitis and other chronic liver diseases commonly seek symptom-relief from herbal
medicine.

Ulrich Beyendorff, licensed acupuncturist has been treating individuals with HCV and
HBV since 1989. This work was the basis for an NIH/NCCAM grant through the
Center for Addiction and Alternative Medicine Research and an FDA IND application
in 1999. The IND for the herbal compound 3AR was received in July of 1999 and
recruitment for the randomized, placebo-controlled study began soon after that.

In the study, subjects are being randomized to one of two groups and will consume 10
g per day of the herbal compound or the placebo (both will be taken orally in the form
of two tablets) over a 12-week period. There will be a two-month follow-up and
standardized quality of life measures will be used as well as laboratory tests.

The specific aims of this study are to assess the relative effectiveness of 3AR
compared to a placebo; measure changes in health status, including levels of fatigue;
assess changes in quality of life and mood states; measure ALT and Viral RNA load
levels; and, assess any adverse effects of 3AR.

Several of the difficulties in assessing a Chinese herbal approach in a double blind,
placebo controlled trial setting will be discussed as will future directions for the study.