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Acupuncture for voice disorders/dysphonia /Hou Yin (喉喑)

A voice disorder occurs when voice quality, pitch, and loudness differ or are inappropriate for an individual’s age, gender, cultural background, or geographic location (from AHSA). Some reports claim that acupuncture is effective for treating dysphonia associated with benign pathological tissue changes. Given the invasiveness and risk associated with phono-surgery for benign vocal pathologies/Benign Vocal Fold Lesions/phonotraumatic vocal lesions, it is reasonable to understand that most of the patients would look for alternative treatment options. Many anecdotal reports and more recent evidence have shown the acupuncture can effectively treat this problem. This blog summarizes some clinical evidence on the use of acupuncture, moxibustion, and herbal medicine for voice disorders.

1. Wound healing effect of acupuncture for treating phonotraumatic vocal pathologies

Yiu et al found that acupuncture of voice-related acupoints facilitated an anti-inflammatory process in phonotraumatic vocal pathologies. Their study could be considered as supporting evidence to consider acupuncture as a less invasive alternative option, when compared to surgery, for treating phonotraumatic vocal pathologies. The study involved 17 patients and used nine voice-related acupoints. Interestingly, they also found that a significant increased in the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 was found in the genuine acupuncture group (N=9) but not in the sham acupuncture group (N=8).

Points used: bilateral LI4 , LU7, ST9 and KI6 and RN23

Yiu EM, Chan KM, Li NY, Tsang R, Abbott KV, Kwong E, Ma EP, Tse FW, Lin Z. Wound‐healing effect of acupuncture for treating phonotraumatic vocal pathologies: A cytokine study. The Laryngoscope. 2016 Jan;126(1):E18-22.

2. Acupuncture is effective to treat Voice Disorders due to Benign Vocal Pathologies: A Randomized Treatment-Placebo Study

Yiu et al investigated the effectiveness of intensive acupuncture therapy for dysphonias associated with benign pathological changes with a randomized, control design. Twenty-four patients aged between 19 and 51 years were randomly assigned to either an experimental group or a placebo group. Acoustic analysis of voice range profile, perceptual analysis of voice quality, and self-perceptions of quality-of-life (QOL) measurement by patients were the outcome measures for determining treatment efficacy. Their findings revealed significant improvement in the treatment group in all three aspects when compared with the placebo group. The acupuncture effect was maintained into the second week after the completion of acupuncture treatment.

Points used: ST9, LU7, KI6, 10 sessions in 20 days. Electricity on bilateral ST9, 2/100 Hz, 3mA

Yiu E, Xu JJ, Murry T, Wei WI, Yu M, Ma E, Huang W, Kwong EY. A randomized treatment-placebo study of the effectiveness of acupuncture for benign vocal pathologies. Journal of Voice. 2006 Mar 1;20(1):144-56.

3. Acupuncture combined with speech rehabilitation training for post-stroke spasmodic dysphonia: a multicenter randomized controlled trial

WU et al observed the clinical efficacy of acupuncture combined with speech rehabilitation training for post-stroke spasmodic dysphonia and compare the differences in efficacy among the therapy of acupuncture combined with speech rehabilitation training and the monotherapy. 270 patients were involved in this study. They found that acupuncture combined with speech rehabilitation training was more effective than rehabilitation alone to treat patients with post-stroke spasmodic dysphonia.

Points used: DU20, JInjin (EX-HN12), Yuye (EX-HN13), tongue three needles (Jin’s Three Needles)

WU ZJ, HU KM, GUO YG, TU YM, ZHANG HY, Yin WA. Acupuncture combined with speech rehabilitation training for post-stroke spasmodic dysphonia: a multicenter randomized controlled trial. World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion. 2014 Dec 30;24(4):12-6.

4. Scalp Acupuncture is effective to treat dysphagia and dysphonia after stroke

Han et al treated 38 stroke patients (26 males and 12 females) with dysphagia and dysphonia with electroacupuncture (EA) of on MS5, MS7, MS9, and MS6. After two courses (4 weeks) of scalp acupuncture treatment, of the 38 cases, 23 had their dysphagia and dysphonia cured (60.5%), 10 (25.3%) had remarkable improvement, 3(7.9%) experienced improvement and 2 (5.3%) had no apparent changes. They concluded that scalp acupuncture has a fairly good therapeutic effect in improving dysphagia and dysphonia caused by stroke and in facilitating cerebral blood flow.


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