Acupuncture Restores Smell?
April 05, 2010
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Traditional
Chinese acupuncture (TCA), where very thin needles are used to stimulate
specific points in the body, may be an effective treatment option for
patients who suffer from loss of smell.
Persistent post-viral olfactory dysfunction (PVOD), resulting in loss of
smell, can profoundly influence a patient's quality of life. The sense of
smell determines the flavor of foods and beverages and serves as an early
warning system for the detection of environmental hazards, such as spoiled
food, leaking natural gas, smoke or airborne pollutants. The loss or
distortion of smell can adversely influence food preference, food intake,
Approximately 2 million Americans experience some type of olfactory
dysfunction. One of the most frequent causes is an upper respiratory tract
infection (URI). Patients frequently complain of smell loss following a
viral URI. The smell loss is usually partial, and reversible. Occasionally,
however, patients may also suffer from parosmia, a distortion of the sense
of smell, phantosmia, smelling things that are not there, or permanent
damage of the olfactory system.
To date, there is no validated pharmacotherapy
for PVOD, but attempts have been made to establish a standardized treatment
using systemic and topical steroids, vitamin B supplements, caroverine,
alpha lipoic acid and other drugs. Researchers point out that, in addition
to these treatments, patients are seeking complementary and alternative
medicines on their own, and they suggest that traditional Western medicine
should explore and validate their usefulness.
In the current study, 15 patients presenting to an outpatient clinic with
PVOD were treated by TCA in 10 weekly, 30-minute sessions. The effects of
TCA were compared to matched pairs of people suffering from PVOD who had
been treated with vitamin B complex. Eight patients treated with TCA
experienced improved olfactory function, compared with only two who were
treated with vitamin B complex.
The authors were quoted as saying, "…the observed high response rate of
about 50 percent under TCA was superior to that of vitamin B complex or that
of spontaneous remission, and offers a possible new therapeutic regimen in
SOURCE: Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck
Surgery, April 2010