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Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2008 Dec;28(12):897-900.

Effects of warm needle moxibustion on bone mass density and biochemical indexes of bone metabolism in patients of postmenopausal osteoporosis

[Article in Chinese]

Zhao LH, Nong ZN, Zhong X, Pang Y, Liang JS, Li XD, Ye FW.

Department of Acupuncture, The First Affiliated Hospital of Guangxi University of TCM, Nanning 530023, China.

OBJECTIVE: To compare therapeutic effects of warm needle moxibustion and medication on osteoporosis and to study the mechanism. METHODS: Forty cases were randomly divided into an acupuncture group and a medication group, 20 cases in each group. The acupuncture group was treated by warm needle moxibustion at Dazhu (BL 11), Ganshu (BL 18), Shenshu (BL 23), Zusanli (ST 36), Yanglingquan (GB 34) etc. once other day, for 3 months; and the medication group was treated by oral administration of tablet Caltrate with Vit D2 for 3 months. The changes of bone mass density (BMD), estradiol (E2), osteocalcin (bone growth protein, BGP), urine calcium/creatinine (Ca/Cr) in the two groups before and after treatment and therapeutic effects were investigated.
RESULTS: After treatment, BMD significantly increased (P<0.05, P<0.01) in the acupuncture group and did not signifi cantly changed in the medication group (P>0.05) with a significant difference between the two groups (P<0.05). After treatment E2 level significantly increased as compared with before treatment in both of groups (P<0.01); after treatment BGP significantly decreased as compared with before treatment in both of groups (P<0.01); after treatment Ca/Cr significantly decreased as compared with before treatment in the acupuncture group (P<0.05) ; af ter treatment, there were significant differences in BGP and Ca/Cr between the two groups (P<0.05 or P<0.01). The clinically controlled rate in the acupuncture group and in the medication group were 35.0%, 5.0%, respectively, the therapeutic effect of the acupuncture group being better than that of the medication group (P<0.01).
CONCLUSION: The therapeutic effect of warm needle moxibustion on osteoporosis is better than that of oral administration of tablet Caltrate with Vit D2 and it can increase levels of hormones and delay bone loss. It is an effective method for preventing and treating postmenopausal osteoporosis.

PMID: 19127918 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

The Influence of Acupuncture on Postmenopausal Female Bone Density.
Journal of Chinese Medicine, #2, 2001, p. 88), Ou-yang, Gang et al. 
Based on a clinical trial involving 42 postmenopausal women 50-70 years of age, all of whom were seen as out-patients between Mar. 1999 and Jan. 2000 and all of whom had been diagnosed with osteoporosis using X-ray examination of the 2-4th lumbar vertebrae. Women suffering from thyroid function disturbances, diabetes mellitus, osteomalacia, fibrous osteitis, and osteoblastic diseases, liver and kidney diseases, and anyone who had used estrogen or corticosteroids in the previous three months were excluded from this study. 25 of these 42 women were assigned to the so-called treatment group, and 17 women were assigned to the comparison group. In terms of the average age (56 years) and the severity of the osteoporosis (which was mostly slight), there was no significant statistical difference between these two groups.
The women in the treatment group were needled at Shen Shu (B1 23), Guan Yuan (CV 4), and Tai Xi (Ki 3) using two inch, 30 gauge fine needles which were inserted slowly. After obtaining the qi, heavy thrusting and light lifting hand technique was used for one minute. Then the needles were retained for 30 minutes, during which time, the needles were stimulated one more time. The needles were withdrawn on the patient's inhalation, and pressure was applied to the needle hole. This treatment was given once every other day for three months, which constituted one course of treatment. After a 10 day rest, a second course of therapy was administered. In addition, one pill of a calcium and vitamin D supplement was administered orally once per day continuously for six months. The women in the comparison group were only administered this same calcium-vitamin D supplement at the same dose for the same length of time.
After six months of the above described therapy, all the women in this study were examined again by X-ray to measure their bone density. In the treatment group bone density went from 0.907 [ or -] 0.072 to 0.923 [ or -] 0.070, for a mean change of 0.013[ or -] 0.012 g/[cm.sup.2]. In the comparison group, bone density went from 0.908 [ or -] 0.072 to 0.913 [ or -] 0.066, for a mean change. of 0.005 [ or -] 0.013 g/[cm.sup.2]. Thus there was a significant difference in increase of bone density from before to after treatment between these two groups (P> 0.05).
The authors of this study found that postmenopausal osteoporosis is categorized in Chinese medicine as kidney vacuity/ bone wilting and kidney vacuity/ lumbar pain. Tai Xi is the foot shao yin kidney channel source point. Shen Shu is the back transport point of the kidneys, while Guan Yuan nourishes and secures the kidneys. Therefore, supplementing these three points has the effect of supplementing the kidneys and boosting the essence. Modern research has shown that needling Shen Shu and Guan Yuan is able to increase serum levels of estrogen, thus inhibiting osteoclastosis and promoting osteoblastosis. As this study shows, acupuncture at these three points accompanied by supplementation of calcium and vitamin D is more effective for increasing bone density in postmenopausal women than supplementation of calcium and vitamin D alone.