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Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine ›› 2012, Vol. 10 ›› Issue (5): 532-537.doi: 10.3736/jcim20120508

• Original Clinical Research • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Can heat and cold be parameterized? Clinical data of a preliminary study

Christoph A. Doenitz1,2,3, Ana Anjos1,3, Thomas Efferth4, Tobias Greten2,3, Henry J. Greten1,2,3   

  1. 1. Institute of Biomedical Sciences (ICBAS), University of Porto, Largo Professor Abel Salzar 2, 4099-030 Porto, Portugal;
    2. German Society of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 69126 Heidelberg, Germany;
    3. Heidelberg School of Chinese Medicine, 69126 Heidelberg, Germany;
    4. Department of Pharmaceutical Biology, Institute of Pharmacy and Biochemistry, University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany;
  • Received:2012-01-18 Accepted:2012-03-16 Online:2012-05-20 Published:2018-06-15

Objective: The aim of this study was to demonstrate whether it is possible to objectively assess the effects of acupuncture by microcirculation-related parameters in the given clinical scenario, to evaluate the significance of the status of capillary perfusion prior to acupuncture for the treatment of a clinical cold pattern, and to evaluate the possible role of microcirculation-related parameters for the future parameterization of the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) diagnosis.

Methods: This prospective, uncontrolled, unblinded preliminary clinical trial included 32 elderly patients after surgical treatment for femoral fractures. For acupuncture treatment the patients received acupuncture with the “leopard spot technique” on the stomach meridian (Liangqiu, S34/ST34). Measurements of microcirculation-related parameters (velocity, blood flow, haemoglobin, oxygen saturation) by white light spectroscopy and laser Doppler were performed prior to and after acupuncture treatment.

Results: Two subgroups of patients after femur fracture could be identified: a low- and a high-perfusion group. Capillary flow velocity and blood flow were significantly augmented by acupuncture in the low-perfusion group only. In the high-perfusion group, there was no significant change of perfusion after acupuncture. The statistical analysis of all patients regardless of their pre-acupuncture perfusion status revealed no statistically significant alteration after acupuncture. The acupuncture effect may have been masked by the inhomogeneity of the overall group.

Conclusion: Microcirculation-related parameters may be valuable to measure acupuncture effects objectively and to characterize the vegetative functions prior to acupuncture so as to homogenize the comparison groups in clinical trials. In our example, a local cold pattern (low capillary perfusion of the leg) could be treated successfully by a point which enhances qi and blood flow, whereas in heat pattern (high capillary perfusion) this intervention had no such effect. Future studies may be directed to correlate the vegetative status as measurable by TCM vegetative parameters with the key symptoms of TCM diagnosis.

Key words: acupuncture therapy, microcirculation, femoral fracture, traditional Chinese medicine theories, blood flow velocity, hemoglobins, clinical trials

Figure 1

Flow chart of this study"

Figure 2

Blood flow before and after acupuncture"

Figure 3

Blood flow before and after acupuncture in the low-perfusion group"

Figure 4

Blood velocity before and after acupuncture in the low-perfusion group"

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