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Modern Researchers Tackle Ancient Therapy at International Acupuncture Conference

Friday, November 09, 2007

 Dr. Brian Berman, director of the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine

Scientists Present Acupuncture Research on Wide Range of Conditions, Including Pain, Autism, Infertility and Sports Medicine

More than 300 researchers from eight countries will gather at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore November 9-11, 2007, to share their findings at the Society for Acupuncture Research conference. Their research represents the latest scientific evidence into acupuncture’s potential benefit for treating a wide variety of conditions, from headaches and back pain to cancer care and breathing problems.

One goal of this year’s conference will be to explore the future of acupuncture research and to assess how far acupuncture research has come in the 10 years following the National Institutes of Health’s Consensus Statement on Acupuncture. That landmark report concluded there was clear evidence for acupuncture’s effectiveness for treating several conditions, including nausea and vomiting following surgery or chemotherapy, nausea during pregnancy and dental pain after surgery. The 1997 consensus panel also found that acupuncture may help other conditions such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headaches, menstrual cramps, carpal tunnel syndrome and asthma. 

"The NIH consensus statement greatly increased the awareness and acceptance of acupuncture by many people in the medical community and the general public," says Brian Berman, M.D., director of the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine, which is co-sponsoring the conference. Dr. Berman is also a professor of family and community medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "Since the publication of the consensus statement, there has been a surge in interest in acupuncture," Dr. Berman continues, "so we are eager to see what these researchers have found."

Highlights for this year’s conference include presentations on the use of acupuncture for headache and neck pain, osteoarthritis of the knee, neurological disorders, gastrointestinal diseases, respiratory problems and mental health disorders.

"Acupuncture has been used in Eastern medicine for thousands of years. Now researchers are applying modern scientific standards to see if these treatments may be effective for a wide variety of conditions," says Lixing Lao, M.D., Ph.D., a licensed acupuncturist and director of the Program in Traditional Chinese Medicine Research at the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine. Dr. Lao is also a professor of family and community medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
"The Society for Acupuncture Research annual conference offers an exciting opportunity to see how scientists are looking into an ancient therapy to benefit people in the 21st century," adds Dr. Lao, who is chairman of this year’s conference and a co-president of the Society for Acupuncture Research. 

The conference also features more than 150 poster presentations on acupuncture research from around the world. The topics range from basic research to clinical trials and look at conditions as varied as runny noses to the potential benefit of using acupuncture during hospice care.  Other topics include investigations into how acupuncture affects the body, such as using functional MRI to look at changes in the brain. Some investigators tackle the studies themselves, exploring questions on the effectiveness of sham acupuncture and looking at effective ways to measure acupuncture’s effects.

"The hundreds of scientists at the Society of Acupuncture Research conference show the far-reaching potential for acupuncture. As we learn more about acupuncture’s effectiveness and how it works in the body, we may be able to apply that understanding to help people with a larger range of ailments," says Dr. Berman.

For more information on the conference, including a list of presentations and posters, go to www.acupunctureresearch.org.
The University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine, located at Kernan Hospital, is a National Institutes of Health "Center of Excellence" for research in complementary and alternative medicine. It was the first program in a major U.S. academic health center to conduct research as well as offer patient care that integrates complementary therapies.

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