Research: LU and COLLEAGUES,

Listed in Issue 266


LU and COLLEAGUES, Kaohsiung, Taiwan set out to  examine the efficacy of traditional Chinese therapeutic massage (tui na) for patients with Obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS).


Obstructive sleep apnea/hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS) is among the most prevalent of sleep-related breathing disorders. No long-term follow-up studies have documented the continued success of lifestyle changes in treatment; oral appliances have an approximate 50% success rate; compliance with continuous positive airway pressure is poor, ranging from 50% to 89%; and the success rate of upper-airway surgery is only 66.4%. Therefore, some OSAHS patients seek alternative treatments. The study intended to examine the efficacy of traditional Chinese therapeutic massage (tui na) for patients with OSAHS.


Design – The research team designed a prospective study. Setting – The study took place at the outtpatient clinic of the sleep center at the Kaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (Kaohsiung, Taiwan), an academic tertiary medical center. Participants – Participants were 31 patients with moderate to severe OSAHS. Intervention – Each participant received a tui na treatment at multiple acupoints 2 ×/wk for 10 wk for approximately 15 min/session. Outcome Measures – At baseline and 3 mo after treatment, participants completed subjective measures, including (1) quality of life using a 36-item, short-form health survey (SF-36); (2) subjective snoring intensity indicated by bed-partners using a 0-10 visual analog scale (VAS); and (3) excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) status, using a Chinese version of the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (CESS). The research team completed objective measures, including (1) polysomnography, (2) body mass index, and (3) neck circumference.


Twenty patients completed the full course of treatment. The apnea/hypopnea index per hour decreased from 43.8 ± 26.9 to 37.8 ± 31.7 after the treatments, with P = .049 (paired t test). The arousal index and rapid eye movement stage of sleep improved significantly. Statistically significant improvements were observed for the SF-36 on the score for the physical component summary, for its subscale for general health, for the mental component summary, and for 2 of its subscales: vitality and mental health. The VAS and the CESS showed that snoring intensity and EDS decreased significantly, respectively. No major complications occurred.


Tui na is a feasible and safe treatment for patients with OSAHS. It can improve the quality of life, sleep architecture, snoring intensity, and EDS in patients with moderate-to-severe OSAHS. In the future, a controlled study should be considered to further investigate the effects of tui na for OSAHS.


Lu CN, Friedman M, Lin HC, Bi KW, Hsueh TP, Chang HW, Su MC, Lin MC. Alternative Therapy for Patients With Obstructive Sleep Apnea/Hypopnea Syndrome: A 1-year, Single-blind, Randomized Trial of Tui Na. Altern Ther Health Med. 23(4):16-24. Jul 2017.

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