Medical Research

Litscher:HRV and Acupuncture in Subjects with Depression

Kristen Sparrow • May 12, 2012

Another study from Litscher analyzing HRV on subjects in China from his lab in Austria. (If you search my site for “Litscher” you will find a number of posts on his research,too lazy to link to them.)  I say “subjects” instead of “patients” because he doesn’t make any mention of outcomes at all, at least in this paper.  He uses a single acupuncture point, GV20, with manual stimulation, and no sham or control.  The same time protocol is used with 10 minutes of monitoring before and after, and repeated stimulation  10 minutes after needle insertion. He reports all data combined, as do most researchers on HRV, not looking at the individual variation, just the overall trend.
In my studies, I do not measure before and after typically given the restraints of clinical practice.  And given that my interest is in determining individual variability in HRV as a function of clinical outcome, I still am not convinced that I need to do that. From what I see, the change from the first 10 minutes to the second 10 minutes of treatment is what is of interest.  I found this article cited in the study very interesting, and will post on it next.

Free article here.
Biomedical Teleacupuncture between China and Austria Using Heart Rate Variability-Part 2: Patients with Depression.
Litscher G, Cheng G, Wang L, Cheng W, Su H, Niu Q, Zou T, Wang Y, Feng X, Gaischek I, Sheng Z, Kuang H.Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:145904. Epub 2012 Apr 17.
Stronach Research Unit for Complementary and Integrative Laser Medicine, Research Unit of Biomedical Engineering in Anesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine, and TCM Research Center Graz, Medical University Graz, Auenbruggerplatz 29, 8036 Graz, Austria.
It has been shown in previous studies that the autonomic nervous system can be affected by acupuncture. Within this study, teleacupuncture between China and Austria is used for quantifying the effects of heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) in 33 Chinese patients (27 females, 6 males; mean age ± SD 49.5 ± 13.1 years; range 22-72 years) suffering from depression. Electrocardiographic signals before, during, and after acupuncture at the acupoint Baihui (GV20) were recorded in Harbin and analyzed in Graz using teleacupuncture. HRV data were analyzed in the time and frequency domain. Mean HR decreased significantly (P < 0.05) during and after acupuncture, whereas total HRV increased significantly after the third acupuncture stimulation period (P < 0.05) and also 5-10 minutes after (P < 0.05) acupuncture. The study shows that HRV could be a useful parameter for quantifying clinical effects of acupuncture on the autonomic nervous system.