Osher Center researcher Dr. Maria Chao was recently interviewed about her groundbreaking research on vitamin K acupoint injections for dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain and cramping), on the Emmy Award winning television show The Doctors. One of the research participants, Chelsey, was also interviewed. This show was originally broadcast on December 15, 2014.
Watch Dr. Chao’s appearance on The Doctors television show.
For this pilot study, Dr. Chao enrolled 20 women, age 18-25, who routinely had menstrual pain and cramping. Nurse practitioners trained in the procedure injected vitamin K into an acupuncture point above the inner ankle, called Spleen 6. Study participants had greater decreases in pain intensity and shorter duration of menstrual symptoms after acupoint injection of vitamin K. Differences in pain intensity approached statistical significance when compared with saline injections.
This treatment is an example of how integrative medicine, in which standard western medicine (in this case, vitamin K injections, which most newborn infants in this country receive shortly after birth) together with evidence-based healing traditions from around the world (in this case, acupuncture) can create a synergistic healing outcome. The treatment was developed during the 1980’s by a physician, Dr. Jin Yu, at the Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital in Shanghai, who is trained in obstetrics and gynecology as well as traditional Chinese medicine. Studies of the treatment, including an NIH-funded randomized controlled trial, have been conducted in China and Italy by an international team of investigators (research article).
When asked if they would receive monthly injections if the treatment were made available, 77% responded positively. Currently, vitamin injections are gaining favor throughout the United States, often administered by naturopathic doctors, nurse practitioners or registered nurses. Many states, including California, do not permit acupuncturists to administer injections (see list). Although this treatment is clinically available in China and Italy, Dr. Chao conducted the first randomized, controlled trial in the US on this topic.
You can read more about the study in the article “Acupuncture Vitamin Injections Alleviate Menstrual Pain” published by Health CMI and on the poster presentation that Dr. Chao has exhibited at research conferences. Dr. Chao has published two articles on this study:
- Increase in plasma phylloquinone concentrations following acupoint injection for the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea