The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

    Debating acupuncture’s benefits in stroke recovery

    Acupuncture is not better than placebo, according to researchers at Aldermoor Health Centre in Southampton, UK.

    First, the details.

    • Starting 4 to 10 days after stroke, patients received 12 acupuncture or placebo treatments over 4 weeks.
      • Acupuncture using electrical stimulation was compared to mock TENS
    • Assessments continued for 12 months.

    And, the results.

    • 92 patients completed the study (the abstract doesn’t indicate how many started).
    • At 3 weeks, there was a significant difference with acupuncture in the ability to control the extremities, as measured by the Motricity Index.
    • At 12 months, there was no difference in response to acupuncture vs placebo.

    The bottom line?
    No long-term benefits with acupuncture during stroke recovery.

    The Cochrane Review of acupuncture in patients with acute stroke came to a similar conclusion. With respect to whether acupuncture was safe, and might reduce the number of patients who died, or were left needing help with everyday activities, there was “no clear effect of acupuncture on either outcome.”

    However, Dr. Samuel Shiflett from the University of Arizona in Tucson has come to a different conclusion. When viewed as complementary treatment for stroke recovery, “there is in fact substantial evidence that acupuncture is effective.”

    This conclusion is based on his review and meta-analysis of the study results. Yes, studies tend to be flawed in their design, but in 5 studies this resulted in “underreporting of acupuncture effects,” according to Dr. Shiflett.

    By “informally” adjusting for these limitations, he demonstrated that “acupuncture is probably much more effective in assisting stroke recovery than has generally been reported, especially when the stroke is in the moderately severe range.”

    Dr. Shiflett concluded, “The importance of giving more attention to ancillary results, such as walking speed and mortality, was illustrated as a way to gain a deeper understanding of the true impact of a still poorly understood therapy such as acupuncture.”

    5/11/08 11:23 JR

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