Isolated and combined effects of electroacupuncture and meditation in reducing experimentally induced ischemic pain: a pilot study.

Author: Choi KE, Musial F, Amthor N, Rampp T, Saha FJ, Michalsen A, Dobos GJ.
Chair of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, University of Duisburg-Essen, 45276 Essen, Germany.
Conference/Journal: Evid Based Complement Alternat Med.
Date published: 2011
Other: Special Notes: 2011. pii: 950795. Epub 2010 Sep 8. , Word Count: 189

Acupuncture and meditation are promising treatment options for clinical pain. However, studies investigating the effects of these methods on experimental pain conditions are equivocal. Here, the effects of electroacupuncture (EA) and meditation on the submaximum effort tourniquet technique (SETT), a well-established, opiate-sensitive pain paradigm in experimental placebo research were studied. Ten experienced meditators (6 male subjects) and 13 nonmeditators (6 male subjects) were subjected to SETT (250 mmHG) on one baseline (SETT only) and two treatment days (additional EA contralaterally to the SETT, either at the leg on ST36 and LV3 or at the arm on LI4 and LI10 in randomized order). Numeric Rating Scale (NRS) ratings (scale 0-10) were recorded every 3 min. During baseline, meditation induced significantly greater pain tolerance in meditators when compared with the control group. Both the EA conditions significantly increased pain tolerance and reduced pain ratings in controls. Furthermore, EA diminished the group difference in pain sensitivity, indicating that meditators had no additional benefit from acupuncture. The data suggest that EA as a presumable bottom-up process may be as effective as meditation in controlling experimental SETT pain. However, no combined effect of both the techniques could be observed.