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Research: Rheumatoid Arthritis

January-February 2010
Traditional Herbal Medicines for Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis Receiving Concomitant Methotrexate: A Preliminary Study
Journal: Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Volume 16, Issue 1, pages 46-51
Abstract: OBJECTIVE: To assess the clinical effectiveness and safety of traditional herbal medicines (THM: Kampo) used in combination with oral methotrexate (MTX) in order to control the disease activity of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in patients whose disease remains active despite treatment with MTX. METHODS: Patients (n=13; male:female = l:12) with RA who achieved only a suboptimal response to MTX therapy (> or =6 mg/week and > or =6 months) were enrolled in this assessment. All patients were treated with Keishinieppiittokaryojutsubu (KER; decoction) according to the traditional diagnostic system. Every 3 months, joint symptoms were examined, and routine blood analysis and general serological tests including anticyclic citrullinated peptide antibody (aCCP) were performed, and then we calculated the disease activity score of 28 joints (DAS28). RESULTS: One patient withdrew from the study after 4 weeks and discontinued consultations with our department for unknown reasons. Five (41.7%) of the twelve patients were defined as responders, and seven patients (58.3%) were classified as nonresponders based on DAS28-CRP findings. On comparison between responders and nonresponders, there was no significant difference with regard to age or disease duration and the dosages of concomitant prednisolone at baseline. KER responders had lower levels of aCCP at baseline than nonresponders (mean +/- standard deviation: 329.2 +/- 113.9 U/mL vs 623.8 +/- 242.8 U/mL, respectively) (P = .046, Mann-Whitney test). Furthermore, responders to KER showed a significant decrease in the serum levels of aCCP. The annual cost for KER treatment is much less than that for other new drugs. CONCLUSION: In patients whose active RA persists despite treatment with MTX, KER in combination with MTX is safe and well tolerated and provides clinical and economic benefits. Furthermore, pretreatment serum levels of aCCP are a useful predictor of a good response to KER treatment, and a decrease in serum levels of aCCP may be an adjunctive indicator in predicting the efficacy of this kind oftreatment.


May 2008
Acupuncture for Symptom Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Pilot Study
Journal: Clinical Rheumatology, Volume 27, Issue 5, pages 641-645.
Abstract: We investigated the feasibility of a future acupuncture trial in the symptom management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Twenty-five patients meeting the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria were recruited and given 14 sessions of individualised acupuncture treatment for 6 weeks. Improvement in symptoms was assessed using ACR 20, 50 and 70; disease activity score (DAS28); tender joint count; swollen joint count; morning stiffness and health-related quality of life using the Korean Health Assessment Questionnaire and the SF-36 at baseline and after 6 weeks. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) was also assessed. At 6 weeks, 44%, 20%, and 12% of patients achieved ACR 20, 50 and 70 responses, respectively. Acupuncture also produced statistically significant improvements in DAS28, pain and global activity, swollen joint count, health-related quality of life (SF-36) and ESR. No major acupuncture-related adverse events were reported. Acupuncture treatment as used in this pilot study was safe and well-tolerated. The use of acupuncture for symptom management in RA warrants further investigation.

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