I’m leaving April 17th to attend the Society for Acupuncture Research Conference and will be presenting this poster.  I realized I hadn’t “shared” by abstract.  Here ya go.  Working on the poster today…

Clinical Acupuncture Case Study: Profound Responders and Correlation with Heart Rate Variability Analysis


Purpose: When considered in the context of complexity theory, acupuncture exhibits non-linearity, i.e. the clinical response can far exceed the magnitude of the physiological input. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is an exacting but potentially sophisticated measure of autonomic effects on heart rate, including non-linear qualities. HRV data presented here is from a group of patients termed “profound responders.”  They exhibited rapid and dramatic response to treatment in spite of their age or the duration of their condition. This study focused on HRV measurement during treatment to determine any correlation with their outsized clinical response. Goals of this approach are to establish parameters of clinical utility of HRV, and to ultimately help correlate HRV with more expensive or invasive physiological measures.

Methods: Over 50 clinic patients were monitored during their acupuncture treatments. The six patients reported on here had profound clinical response and in addition had adequate data (no artifact), enough data sessions in succession, and could be positioned suitably for HRV monitoring.  All received Traditional Chinese Medicine body acupuncture according to their presenting pattern and diagnosis.  Outcome measures were patients’ assessments of progress and/or blood pressure. Heart rate was measured during treatment after needle placement, then data analyzed using Vivosense software, comparing the first to second 10 minute segment.  LFR/HFR (Low frequency/High frequency) trends were chosen for report though other parameters (Sample Entropy, pnn50, HF, Poincare plots) were also measured. Their results are compared for illustration to three nonresponder patients.

Results:  Data analysis showed an almost uniform increase in HRV from the first to the second 10 minute segment, best demonstrated by a decrease in their LFR/HFR, in those with profound clinical response.

Conclusion: Though clinical utility of HRV is limited, it may have potential to provide a biomarker of effective acupuncture treatment, perhaps because HRV captures subtle physiologic changes.