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Period pain helped by acupuncture

23rd February 2010

Acupuncture is a better treatment for period pain than painkillers such as ibuprofen, according to a recent Korean study.

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The research team made a review of 27 different studies encompassing about 3,000 female subjects, most of them Chinese, linking acupuncture to period pain relief.

They concluded that acupuncture was more effective against menstrual cramps than common painkillers and herbal remedies.

The finding may be good news for women who find that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen upset their stomach.

Crippling period pain affects about 5% of women, leaving them unable to attend classes or go to work.

Symptoms of severe period pain may include nausea, diarrhoea, migraine, and backache.

Despite their conclusions, the research team said that some of the studies were not conducted appropriately, and that more research was needed.

They said that some of the studies were conducted so that the researchers and the female subjects involved ended up cooperating unconsciously, altering the study's results.

Some of the studies also compared traditional acupuncture treatment with treatment involving a random placement of needles that did not penetrate very deeply into the skin.

Traditional acupuncture methods call for the practitioner to insert needles into the energy meridians of the body.

In treating period pain, two of three studies found no difference between the imitation of acupuncture and traditional acupuncture itself.

Philip Steer, editor-in-chief of the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, said women whose period pain was severe should consult specialists, and that they should not use complementary therapies such as acupuncture exclusively.


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