Gerard Wherity


Chinese Herbal Medicine

Dover House, 2 Dover Close,
Poole, BH13 6EA (map)

Tel: 01202 798616
Mobile: 07513 340681

NEWS .......

Trust me I'm a doctor - in pain. In 2014 the popular BBC programme included a piece on acupuncture. One of the presenters had a brain scan during acupuncture treatment which showed deactivation of the part of the part of the brain thought to be responsible for the perception of pain. The results were impressive enough to persuade the presenter, who works as an A&E doctor in London, that acupuncture can be as effective as some traditional pain medication.

Anxiety and Depression. A study in Sweden published in June 2014 found that acupuncture seemed to be more effective than conventional treatment in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Patients received 8 weekly sessions of acupuncture. A follow up showed that the improvement was maintained 6 months after the treatment started. A similar improvement was found in a UK trial of patients with long-term anxiety who had not responded to conventional treatment.

Heart disease. Heart rate variability (HRV) is reduced in patients with coronary artery disease, a factor which is associated with heart attacks. A study in California published in the International Journal of Cardiology in September 2014 found that HRV increased in patients who had acupuncture. The authors felt that the results were good enough to warrant a clinical trial.

Diabetes. Chinese herbal medicine has been found to be as effective as conventional drugs such as metformin in reducing the likelihood of prediabetes becoming diabetes. The study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2104 found that taking herbs for a year reduced the risk of diabetes by a third. The study author, Dr Yuan, from the Center for Herbal Medicine Research at the University of Chicago, commented that " the safety profile of this herbal medicine is very good without obvious adverse effects."

IVF. In Brazil a group of women who had been through two or more unsuccessful IVF cycles tried again while being treated with acupuncture. Over 35% fell pregnant, compared to less than 10% of those who did not have acupuncture. The results were reported in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine in 2013.

Migraines. A report published in the September 2013 edition of the journal Acupuncture in Medicine compared acupuncture treatment to a course of valproic acid, an anticonvulsive drug commonly prescribed to prevent migraines. In each case treatment took place for 3 months. Both groups showed "similar and significant improvements" but whereas valproic acid had the greatest effect while it was being taken, the acupuncture effect "continued beyond the treatment period". The authors also noted that while 40% of those taking valproic acid suffered adverse side-effects acupuncture did not cause any problems at all.

Arthritis of the knee. A review of studies on the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee published in the September 2013 Osteoarthritis and Cartilage Journal found that a number of treatments including acupuncture, TENS, exercise and bathing "produced a statistically significant reduction in pain when compared with standard care". One of the authors commented that acupuncture "has probably got the best outcome across all the physical therapies."

Polycistic Ovary Syndrome. A Swedish trial published in the American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism in May 2013 found that regular acupuncture increased the frequency of ovulation from an average of 2 times every 5 months to 3 times every 4 months. Levels of sex steroids including testosterone "were significantly lower than in the control group". The researchers concluded that "repeated acupuncture treatments resulted in higher ovulation frequency in lean/overweight women with PCOS and were more effective than just meeting with the therapist. Ovarian and adrenal sex steroid serum levels were reduced with no effect on LH secretion."

Arthritis, low back pain and fibromyalgia. A report commissioned by Arthritis Research UK and published in January 2013 looked at the evidence from high quality trials for the effectiveness of 25 complementary therapies. It concluded that acupuncture is the most effective complementary therapy for osteoarthritis, that acupuncture or massage are the most effective for low back pain, and that massage closely followed by acupuncture are the most effective therapies for fibromyalgia. In all cases acupuncture was considered to be a safe treatment.

Hay fever. A study in Korea found that the symptoms of hay fever (seasonal allergic rhinitis) "decreased significantly" after treatment with acupuncture. Over 200 patients were each given 12 treatments over a period of 4 weeks. The study was published in the European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in December 2012.

IBS. A trial in Spain assessed whether the use of a herb on a specific acupuncture point was effective in turning babies in the breach position. Over 400 mothers from 33-35 weeks pregnant took part. The technique, known as moxibustion, was 30% more effective than just usual care, and the conclusion was that it was an "effective and safe technique". The results were published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine in December 2012.

Headaches. In September 2012 the National Institute for Clinical Excellence produced updated guidelines recommending that doctors should consider a course of acupuncture treatment as a preventative measure for patients with tension-type headaches and also for those with migraines where medication was ineffective. More details can be found by clicking on the 'Pain & Injury' link at the top of this page.

Chronic pain. A study published in October 2012 considered the effect of acupuncture on nearly 18,000 patients with chronic pain, either back and neck pain, osteoarthritis or headaches. The results showed that acupuncture could be beneficial for all three types of pain, and of course patients could also benefit from not being at risk from the side effects of strong painkillers.

Fatigue after chemotherapy. A trial at Manchester University has investigated the potential benefits of acupuncture in the management of fatigue following chemotherapy for breast cancer. Most of the participants had felt chronically tired for a year or more before having acupuncture. The researchers found that after 6 weeks of treatment there were mild to modest improvements in fatigue, anxiety and depression, and also in emotional and physical well-being. They concluded that acupuncture was "an effective intervention for managing the symptoms of cancer-related fatigue and improving patients' quality of life". The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in October 2012.

IBS. A trial in York published in October 2012 involved over 200 patients with long term IBS (average 13 years). The trial found that 10 weekly sessions of acupuncture together with their usual medication provided a reduction in the severity of symptoms in 49% of patients, compared with an improvement in only 31% of those who had usual medication alone. The patients were followed up over a year and it was found that the improvement was largely sustained after 6, 9 and 12 months.

This is a selection of links which might be helpful if you are interested in Chinese medicine.


British Acupuncture Council
Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine
College of Integrated Chinese Medicine
University of Bristol Botanic Garden
Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
Article on Chinese medicine published in the Lancet
Origins of Chinese medicine
A brief history of Chinese herbalism
National Institute for Clinical Excellence low back pain guidance
Battlefield acupuncture
Science and Development Network article on drugs from herbs
Research paper on the use of plants in drug discovery
World Health Organisation malaria information

Research Resources

British Acupuncture Council
Acupuncture Research Briefing Papers
Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine
Journal of Chinese Medicine
European Journal of Oriental Medicine
Cochrane Collaboration Research Reviews


Pamscom Acupuncturists Poole

Gerard Wherity is a fully qualified member of the British Acupuncture Council and the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine and practises in the Poole and Bournemouth area.

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Lime flower photograph by Kilian (source).