Background: Acupuncture can not only be used for well-known diseases, but also for so-called modern lifestyle-related diseases. Using innovative methods like e.g. new analyses of heart rate variability (HRV), it is also possible to investigate diseases like burnout syndrome, ie., qi deficiency in Chinese medicine (CM).
Objective: The main object of this research protocol is to perform research on the relationship of burnout syndrome and heart rate (HR) and HRV.
Methods: A total of 175 patients with burnout syndrome (qi deficiency syndrome) in five groups and 35 healthy volunteers will be investigated. Based on random numbers generated by computer and concealed in opaque envelops, the patients will be assigned to four acupuncture groups using Zusanli (ST 36) acupuncture stimulation, Guanyuan (CV4) acupuncture stimulation, both points, and both points with Streitberger device respectively, and a moxibustion group using both points mentioned above, with 35 cases in each group. Altogether four different experiments are planned. Experiment 1 includes 70 subjects and is a comparison between a burnout group and a control group (healthy volunteers). The evaluation parameters are different scores and indices of HR and HRV. Experiment 2 includes 140 subjects and compares the efficacy of different acupuncture points. In experiment 3 (105 subjects), acupuncture and moxibustion should be compared to healthy volunteers. Experiment 4 (70 subjects) investigates the long-term therapeutic effects of acupuncture and moxibustion on the scores of qi deficiency and HR/HRV in qi deficiency patients. In both the acupuncture and moxibustion groups, a total of 10 treatments will be performed.
Conclusions: The joint research aims at the scientific evaluation of CM, mainly in the field of HRV. This parameter could be a very good indicator of the state of health and can be inflfluenced by different acupuncture methods, as shown in the past.
Keywords: acupuncture; burnout syndrome; heart rate variability; moxibustion; qi deficiency.