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Acupuncture for Urinary Tract Infection

May 18, 2014

There are about 11 million Americans who suffer from acute urinary tract infection each year. Urinary tract infection (UTI) affects men but most of its cases involve women. Any part of the urinary system can potentially be affected with UTI. This disease is caused by bacteria that have entered the urethra where it starts to rapidly multiply.  It is seen as a debilitating condition and the pain it generates may sometimes be more painful the childbirth according to some women who have been affected by this condition.

The most commonly used conventional western treatment for UTI is antibiotics. However, the increasing resistance of the bacteria towards antibiotics forces UTI patients to cease taking antibiotics and just allow the infection to gradually go away. This often results in the rise of worse conditions in the body. Moreover, women who have a high chance of developing UTI usually utilize large doses of antibiotics before the infection actually sets in; this merely accelerates the resistance of the bacteria to the drugs.

The danger of antibiotic resistance has prompted researchers to look into other natural and alternative ways to help lessen the duration and frequency of urinary tract infections.  A study done in October 2002 in Norway involving the use of acupuncture to treat gynecological conditions showed results (which were published in the American Journal of Public Health issued October 2002 issue) favoring acupuncture therapy – it showed that the rate of infection decreased by more than a half after 6 months of acupuncture treatment.

The study involved 94 women ranging 18 to 60 in age.  All of these women have had urinary tract infection at least 3 times for the past 12 months with a minimum of two infections having been diagnosed as UTI and resolved by a doctor. All the women were diagnosed based on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) protocols.  Then they were divided into two groups: the acupuncture and control groups. The control group was not given any treatment while the acupuncture group was treated on acupuncture points in the back, lower stomach and lower extremities based on the TCM diagnosis.  The treatments were performed two times a week for four weeks.

Results

The researchers observed a substantial lessening of the group treated with acupuncture.  About 73% of subjects treated with acupuncture reported no symptoms of UTI during the six-month followup visit. In contrast, the control group only had a 52% improvement of their symptoms.  The acupuncture group exhibited more than half (55%) of a decreased risk of incurring another UTI infection in the six months after the last treatment session.

The subjects given acupuncture also had a 51% improvement in the average amount of urine that remained in their bladder during the six-month examination compared to baseline. The untreated subjects showed no major change in residual urine.