Research: PAK and colleagues, De

Listed in Issue 64


PAK and colleagues, Department of Acupuncture and Anatomy, Dongshin University, Naju, South Korea investigated whether acupuncture in pregnant rats could suppress oxytocin-induced uterine contractions, and compared the results with those of an oxytocin antagonist.


Preterm labour (PTL) is one of the main causes of foetal mortality and morbidity. Current methods of preventing PTL are not very effective and often have significant side effects.


Uterine contractions were induced in pregnant rats by continuous infusion of oxytocin. The first foetus in one uterine horn near the ovarian end was removed, and a distilled-water-filled catheter was inserted into the vacated amniotic sac to measure uterine contractions (as changes in intrauterine pressure). Two acupoints, Ho-Ku (LI-4) and San-Yin-Chiao (Sp-6), were selected for acupuncture; Kuan-Yuan (Co-4) was used for moxibustion.


Acupuncture on LI-4, but not on Sp-6, significantly suppressed the oxytocin-induced uterine contractions (p<0.05). Stimulation of Co-4 by moxibustion had no significant tocolytic effect (p>0.05). Administration of an oxytocin antagonist eliminated all the oxytocin-induced uterine contractions. Acupuncture to restimulate the uterine activity suppressed by the oxytocin antagonist had no effect; prostaglandins did restimulate the uterine contractions.


Acupuncture on LI-4 suppressed oxytocin-induced uterine contractions in pregnant rats. If it is similarly effective in women, it may offer an alternative medical treatment for women in PTL.


Pak SC et al. The effect of acupuncture on uterine contraction induced by oxytocin. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine 28 (1): 35-40. 2000.

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