In searching for more ways to feel better, we wanted to know how POTS patients felt about acupuncture. Granted, there are many different styles, and each practitioner is different, but we were curious whether any trends would emerge about acupuncture in general. Acupuncture has strong scientific evidence supporting its success in reducing pain and nausea, and the World Health Organization had identified over 40 medical conditions effectively treated by acupuncture . Sounds promising! On the other hand, however, POTSies sure seem to have unique or hypersensitive reactions to all sorts of things. So, we used the POTS Patient-Powered Survey to inquire about patients' experiences.
In the survey, we listed acupuncture among other alternative therapies, and asked participants:
A) whether they had tried it, and B) whether it had "helped lots!" "helped a little," "didn't help," or "made my POTS worse."
Below are the responses from 431 POTS patients.
Yes, 100 No, 331
Next, for those 100 who had tried it, below are the percentages of patients who gave each rating:
Helped a lot!, 9% Helped a little, 35% Didn't help, 43% Made my POTS worse, 13%
It appears encouraging that acupuncture was rated as helpful (a little or a lot) by 44% of those who had tried it. This is perhaps not surprising, given that acupuncture is acknowledged to help several symptoms that are common with POTS, such as migraines, constipation, diarrhea, nausea and pain .
On the down side, 13% rated acupuncture as making their POTS worse, warning us that it's not risk-free.
To put acupuncture in perspective with other therapies, we compared it to massage, physical therapy, counseling, essential oils and elevating the head of the bed. For each, we identified POTS patients who had tried the therapy and then looked at their ratings:
"Acupuncture (n=100)", 44% "Massage (n=132)", 63% "Physical therapy (n=183)", 54% "Counseling (n=177)", 43% "Essential oils (n=89)", 54% "Elevating head of bed (n=231)", 52%
What is perhaps most encouraging is that each therapy helped a number of patients, and that multiple therapies might be combined for additive benefits.
If you decide you want to try acupuncture, first make sure to ask your doctor if it would be safe. We have lots more findings here, or to receive occasional email updates on new findings, you can sign up on our homepage. Be well!