Acupuncture Eases Side Effects of AIDS Drugs

| October 1, 2012 | 0 Comments | 21 views

July 27, 2005 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) -- Acupuncture may help relievebloating, cramping, and appetite loss among HIV-infected people taking potentdrug cocktails to keep the virus in check.

Since they feel better after acupuncture, people are more likely to taketheir drugs properly, resulting in better disease control, says researcherElizabeth Sommers, MPH, research director of the AIDS Care Project/Pathways toWellness in Boston.

While powerful AIDS drugs are credited with helping HIV-infected people livelonger, the drugs often cause a host of digestive problems, she tellsWebMD.

"Anything we can do to minimize side effects and maximize adherence totreatment is important," she says. "Acupuncture is one suchway."

Sommers says that acupuncture is already used to curb digestive side effectsin people taking cancer drugs.

Targeted Acupuncture Helps More

The new study, presented here at a meeting of the International AIDSSociety, included 50 HIV-infected men and women taking HIV medications. Abouthalf had been diagnosed with full-blown AIDS.

At the start of the study, all of the participants complained that the drugscaused at least two digestive side effects: Nearly 80% had gas, more than 40%had bloating, 50% had cramps, nearly 50% had appetite loss, and 10% hadactually lost weight.

The participants then received six weeks of acupuncture. For three weeks theacupuncture included four sites commonly associated with improvement ofdigestive symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, and bowel upset. For anotherthree weeks they received acupuncture at four sites nearby sites not noted foraffecting digestive conditions.

The patients were unaware of which type of acupuncture they were receivingat any given time.

But after just three weeks of acupuncture treatments, only 60% had two ormore digestive symptoms, Sommers says.

Both sets of acupuncture points improved digestive symptoms. However,acupuncture at the sites targeting digestive symptoms was more effective incontrolling loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, and bloating.

More People Take Their Drugs After Acupuncture

Among the 20% of people who said they weren't taking their AIDS medicationsas directed at the start of the study, half reported improvement afteracupuncture treatment, she says.

None of the participants complained of side effects from theacupuncture.

"We're very heartened by the results and are gearing up for a biggerstudy," Sommers says.

Pedro Chequer, MD, director of the National AIDS Program in Brazil, says hewelcomes the research.

"It's worth a try," he tells WebMD. "Now we need the scientificproof it works so we can offer it to our patients."

Hal Huff, ND, a naturopathic doctor at the Canadian College of NaturopathicMedicine in Toronto, says the results are similar to what he sees in his ownpractice.

"We give acupuncture in conjunction with other treatments such asdietary changes and nutritional supplements, so I can't say for certain whetherit's the acupuncture or the whole package that results in improvement,"Huff tells WebMD. "But people report fewer digestive problems and improvedcompliance with their AIDS medications."

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