East West Acupuncture

East West Acupuncture

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Neurological Issues


Parkinson's Disease

Several studies in China and abroad have reported that acupuncture can bring about symptomatic improvement in Parkinson’s Disease (PD). The increase of dopamine in the brain and the excitability of the dopamine neurons induced by acupuncture may contribute to the therapeutic effects.

The first report on the treatment of PD with acupuncture appeared in 1955, but it was not until the 1970’s when the effectiveness of scalp acupuncture in the treatment of PD was discovered that the treatment became widespread. One Chinese report on 218 cases of PD treated with acupuncture concluded that “acupuncture possesses definite therapeutic effectiveness for Parkinson's disease, which is mainly represented by improvement in the clinical symptoms and signs, delaying of the disease's progression, decrease in the dosage of anti-parkinsonian drug, and expectant treatment of the complications and symptoms induced by the drug side-effects.”

In one U.S. study, acupuncture was found to improve sleep in Parkinson’s patients. The patients also reported other discrete symptomatic improvements. (Shulman et al, 2002).

Acupuncture Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease. Report of Huashan Affiliated Hospital TCM Department, Shanghai First Hospital, Shanghai, 1979. Electro-acupuncture at 120-150 Hz for 20 min. 1 treatment/day for a total of 15 treatments. Rest 3-5 days then repeat. Of 53 patients, 11 (20.8%) had marked improvement, 30 (56.6%) showed improvement, 12 (22.6%) showed no improvement. In patients who showed no improvement in the first series of treatments, there was no improvement in the subsequent series either. Patients with “rigid type” PD responded better than those with “tremor type.”

Jiao S, Scalp Acupuncture, Shanxi People’s Press, 1982: 126. Acupuncture at Chorea-Tremor Area for Parkinson’s Disease.13 subjects (43.3%) had “marked improvement” (tremors stopped for more than 6 months, muscle hypertonicity recovered normal levels, other symptoms improved, able to resume work, but relapse in 6 months). 16 subjects had “improvement” (tremors ceased for 8 hours or more, hypertonicity and general symproms improved). 1 subject had no effect (3.4%). Acupuncture treatment with scalp needles was found to be most effective in the early stages of PD.

Jiang Da-shu 1990. Xi Jia-fang 1995. Combined acupuncture and Chinese herbs for Parkinson’s Disease.

Jin et al. Acupuncture in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease. Zhenjiu Linchuang Zazhi 1998; 14(3):5.

Chen Li-guo. Clinical Observation of 40 Cases of Parkinson’s Disease Treated with Acupuncture. Zhong Yi Za Zhi 1996; 37(4):216. (J Tradit Chin Med 1998 Mar;18(1):23-6) . Marked improvement in 10 cases, improvement in 16, no effect in 14.

Shulman LM, Wen X, Weiner WJ, Bateman D, Minagar A, Duncan R, Konefal J, 2002. Acupuncture therapy for the symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Mov Disord 2002 Jul;17(4):799-802

Liang XB, Liu XY, Li FQ, Luo Y, Lu J, Zhang WM, Wang XM, Han JS. 2002. Long-term high-frequency electro-acupuncture stimulation prevents neuronal degeneration and up-regulates BDNF mRNA in the substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area following medial forebrain bundle axotomy. Brain Res Mol Brain Res 2002 Dec 16;108(1-2):51-9. The results of this study done with lab rats suggest that long-term high-frequency electro-acupuncture is effective in halting the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra and up-regulating the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) mRNA levels in ventral midbrain. The effect was found at 100 Hz electroacupuncture. Zero Hz and 2 Hz had no effect. Activation of endogenous neurotrophins by electro-acupuncture may be involved in the regeneration of the injured dopaminergic neurons, which may underlie the effectiveness of electro-acupuncture in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease