A new pilot study indicates that treatments involving acupuncture, and acupressure paired with massage therapy, both result in anorexia nervosa patients’ feeling an increased sense of wellbeing.

“The pilot examined the feasibility of conducting a randomized controlled trial of acupuncture compared with an active control in an inpatient setting, to examine individuals’ experience of the interventions, clinical outcomes from the trial, and to integrate data to explain the trial findings,” an abstract on www.pubmed.gov noted.

The subjects were 26 patients with anorexia nervosa. Treatment as usual was administered, and the intervention was delivered twice a week for the first three weeks, followed by weekly treatment for three weeks, according to the abstract. The acupuncture group received acupuncture at certain points. The control group received acupressure and massage. Acupressure involved consciously and gradually directing pressure to the center of the point being worked on.

Among the results of this pilot study:

• Researchers experienced timely recruitment with the population recruited within a 5-month period.

• Study dropouts were 23% and treatment compliance was moderate, but acceptable for this challenging population.

• Participants in the control group demonstrated reduced eating concerns.

• Participants described both interventions positively, and experienced a sense of calmness and relaxation.

• Conclusions: Acupuncture and acupressure and massage may improve the patient’s subjective sense of wellbeing, and further research is needed.

The research was conducted by investigators at the Centre for Complementary Medicine Research, University of Western Sydney , Penrich, New South Wales, Australi, and published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.