Objective: To observe the effects of acupuncture on the fatigue symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, the potential symptoms and cytokines on the base of the theory as "interaction of brain and kidney" and explore its clinical therapeutic effects and the potential mechanism.
Methods: A total of 68 patients were randomized into an observation group and a control group, 34 cases in each one. In the control group, oryzanol and vitamin B1 were prescribed for oral administration and the patients were required to have a proper rest and physical exercise. In the observation group, on the base of the theory as "interaction of brain and kidney", acupuncture was added to Baihui (BL 20), Fengchi (GB 20), Pishu (BL 20), Shenshu (BL 23), Sanyinjiao (SP 6) and Taixi (KI 3). The treatment was given once a day, 5 treatments a week, with 2 days break. The consecutive treatment for 4 weeks was required. Before and after treatment, the score of the fatigue scale-14 (FS-14), the score of the somatic and psychological health report (SPHERE) and the score of the Pittsburgh sleep quality index (PSQI) were observed in the patients of the two groups separately. The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was adopted to determine the levels of serum interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interferon-γ (INF-γ) before and after treatment.
Results: After treatment, FS-14 scores, SPHERE scores and PSQI scores were all reduced as compared with the scores before treatment in the two groups (P<0.05, P<0.01). After treatment, the levels of IL-6 and INF-γ in the serum in the observation group were reduced as compared with the levels before treatment (both P<0.01). After treatment, the scores of FS-14, SPHERE and PSQI as well as the levels of serum IL-6 and INF-γ in the observation group were all lower than the results in the control group (P<0.05, P<0.01).
Conclusion: On the base of the theory as "interaction of brain and kidney", acupuncture therapy relieves the fatigue symptoms and the potential symptoms and improves the sleep quality in the patients of chronic fatigue syndrome. The effect mechanism is probably related to the decrease of the levels of IL-6 and INF-γ in serum.
Keywords: acupuncture therapy; chronic fatigue syndrome; cytokines; fatigue symptoms; interaction of brain and kidney; randomized controlled trial (RCT); sleep quality.