a sleep- related breathing disorder in which there is repeated obstruction to
the upper airway, while the person is sleeping.
Apnoea literally means "without breath". A
treatment called nasal continuous
positive airway pressure (CPAP) is considered the 'gold standard' treatment for
CPAP helps to hold
the airway open and prevents collapse during sleep. Though it is nearly 100 per cent effective
practice is difficult. Most of the patients do not tolerate treatment with
CPAP. It was in this context that alternatives were sought. New research
asserts that acupuncture is a good choice.
Acupuncture has been practised for
thousands of years in China for the treatment of various diseases. It is a part of traditional Chinese medicine that
treats patients by inserting and manipulating needles in the body.
The past century witnessed the advent of
electro-acupuncture (EA) as an effective alternative of the widely used manual
acupuncture (MA). In EA, a small electric current
is passed between pairs of acupuncture needles. It was applied
extensively in clinical and basic research. Studies showed that the results of
EA and MA differ.
Prolonged and multiple sessions of acupuncture
are usually required to treat obstructive sleep
apnoea (OSA). The latest study concentrated on the immediate effect of a
single session of OSA. It also weighed electro-acupuncture against manual
acupuncture. The study
took place at the Public Hospital of the Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo,
Brazil, in the Division of Sleep Disorders of the Department of Psychobiology.
Forty patients were involved in the study and they were
assigned into different groups randomly. All the participants, aged between
30-70 years, were ones with significant OSA confirmed by polysomnographic
studies (commonly called 'sleep studies').
A single session of either MA or EA of 10 Hz was found to provide significant
benefits for patients with obstructive sleep
apnoea. A significant decrease in Apnoea-Hypopnoea Index, a measure of
the severity of sleep apnoea was noted. The number of nocturnal respiratory
events in patients was also found to have lowered.
research is hereby called upon since the positive results point to a cost
effective means to improve the quality of life of multitudes suffering obstructive sleep apnoea.
Immediate effect of acupuncture on the sleep pattern of patients with
obstructive sleep apnea; Anaflavia O Freire et al; Acupunture in Medicine.