(Natural News) Acupuncture is a traditional form of medicine used by the ancient Chinese to relieve pain and other ailments. Today, it is commonly associated with the use of needles that target certain points or meridians spread throughout the body. Over the years, research have produced sufficient evidence to support the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating a number of conditions, such as hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, dysmenorrhea, and peptic ulcers. In a recent study published in the journal Medical Acupuncture, researchers from The Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School in Israel examined the efficacy of acupuncture in treating persistent warts caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). They reported that an immunomodulatory effect may contribute to the ability of acupuncture to clear warts in some cases.
Acupuncture treatment is effective against persistent warts
HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that around 79 million Americans — most of them in their late teens — are infected with HPV. HPV is different from HIV (which causes AIDS) and HSV (which causes herpes). There are many types of HPV and all of them can cause different health problems, the most serious of which is cancer.
For their study, the researchers focused on HPV infections that cause cutaneous warts. In these warts or small skin lesions, viral manipulation creates a microenvironment that favors the survival and reproduction of HPV. While most lesions eventually regress due to Th1-mediated immune response, some become persistent. The researchers recruited 18 patients with persistent warts. Half of them received acupuncture treatment, while the other half received placebo. All 18 patients underwent treatment four times.
Th1-mediated response is a type of immune response perpetuated by helper T cells that produce Th1-type cytokines. Cytokines are hormonal messengers responsible for cell-mediated immunity and allergic responses. Th1-type cytokines, in particular, produce proinflammatory responses that kill intracellular parasites and promote autoimmune responses. The main Th1-type cytokine found in the human body is interferon-gamma (IFN-y).
For their analysis, the researchers based the success of acupuncture treatment on total clearance of all lesions and the absence of recurrence for three months. They reported that the clinical success of acupuncture treatment was 36.6 percent while placebo was completely unsuccessful. They also found that interleukin-10 (IL-10) levels in the acupuncture treatment group decreased.
The researchers noted that IL-8, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a), IL-6, and INF-y expression levels varied between patients who were cleared of warts and patients with unresponsive warts, although the differences were not always statistically significant. They observed the same differences in leukocyte levels. On the other hand, they found that acupuncture eliminated persistent warts in some patients and induced changes in immunologic parameters.
Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that the clearance of persistent warts after acupuncture treatment could be due to a shift toward TH1 immune response or an anti-inflammatory effect on the virus-favored microenvironment present in the skin lesions.
The efficacy of acupuncture
Acupuncture, when done correctly, is safe and effective in alleviating pain. It is also a good alternative for people who cannot tolerate or use pain medications. Acupuncture can be used in combination with other treatments. According to the World Health Organization, acupuncture is an effective treatment for the following conditions: (Related: Acupuncture performs as well as drug therapy for treating high blood pressure.)
- Allergic rhinitis
- Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
- Dental pain
- Epidemic hemorrhagic fever
- Gastric conditions
- Morning sickness
- Reducing the risk of stroke
- Urinary tract infection
Despite the efficacy and health benefits of acupuncture, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health urges people to consult with their healthcare providers and to not use acupuncture as a one-size-fits-all treatment for all of their health conditions.