Acupuncture for anxiety and depression
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Down and Depressed? Acupuncture Can Help

Down and Depressed? Acupuncture Can Help | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |

Mention acupuncture and many people think of therapy for physical aches and pains…but what if the problem is the persistent inner ache of sadness? The ancient healing technique of acupuncture also is used as a complementary treatment for various types of depression—including the notoriously tricky bipolar disorder(manic-depressive disorder), in which patients cycle between deep depression and manic episodes.

Though Western-style research studies on the topic are somewhat limited, clinical trials have reported significant findings. For instance, here is evidence for acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating…

Major depression. A study published in Psychological Science found that 70% of women with mild-to-moderate depression who underwent 12 acupuncture sessions experienced at least a 50% reduction in symptoms—results comparable to the success rates of antidepressant medication, but without the drugs’ risk for side effects. Other studies have shown greater improvement in patients treated with acupuncture alone or with acupuncture plus antidepressants than in patients treated with antidepressants alone.Bipolar disorder. In two studies from Purdue University, all bipolar patients who received eight to 12 weeks of acupuncture sessions (in addition to their usual medication) showed improvement in their symptoms. This was true regardless of whether they entered the study during a phase of depression or a phase of mania.Depression during pregnancy. In a study published in Journal of Affective Disorders, 69% of pregnant participants got significant relief after 12 sessions of acupuncture in which depressive symptoms were specifically addressed…in a control group that received massage therapy instead of acupuncture, only 32% of patients improved. A similar study in Obstetrics & Gynecology reported comparable results.

To discuss acupuncture’s benefits in greater detail, I contacted Daisy Dong, LAc, OMD, a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist in private practice in Denver and a professor at Southwest Acupuncture College. She told me that for patients with various types of depression, acupuncture treatment generally brings increased energy…greater calmness…reduced anxiety…more positive thoughts and fewer negative ones…and improved sleep. For bipolar patients, acupuncture also helps to stabilize moods.

Dr. Dong also noted that, when performed by a qualified professional, acupuncture has no adverse effects other than perhaps mild temporary discomfort at the needle sites. In contrast, antidepressant medications carry a risk for side effects including nausea, weight gain, fatigue and sexual problems…in bipolar patients, drugs must be very carefully managed to avoid triggering mania…and during pregnancy, there are concerns about potential negative effects of drugs on the fetus.


If you decide to give acupuncture a try: The first visit generally takes about an hour, with subsequent sessions lasting 30 to 45 minutes depending on the complexity of the case. Depression patients typically receive one or two treatments per week. Some people notice improvement after the first treatment, but for many people, it takes several treatments before results are seen—and sustained improvement generally requires about 10 sessions, Dr. Dong said.

Acupuncture treatment for depression costs the same as acupuncture for other ailments—about $60 to $120 per session, depending on your location and the individual practitioner. Some health insurance policies cover acupuncture, so check your plan.

If you are taking medication for depression or bipolar disorder: It is very important that you not simply stop taking the drugs on your own even if you start feeling better after beginning acupuncture, Dr. Dong said. Depending on your condition, you may indeed be able to reduce or even discontinue your medication—but this must be done under the supervision of your prescribing physician.

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Acupuncture for Depression | Abstract

Acupuncture for Depression | Abstract | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |

Sudhakaran Poovadan. Medical Acupuncture. August 2014, 26(4): 230-240. doi:10.1089/acu.2014.1043.

Published in Volume: 26 Issue 4: August 22, 2014


Author information

Poovadan Sudhakaran, MBBS, PhD, MastACU, MastTCM

Background: In many parts of the world, acupuncture is increasingly being used to treat mental disorders. It has a harmonizing, sedating, and tonifying effect and acupuncture's use can often reduce or even replace drug therapy. The goals are to develop a system of acupuncture that covers all aspects of depression and to explain the Chinese Traditional Medicine bases of the points used.

Methods: The importance of Heart as the House of Mind as opposed to the brain in Western medicine is emphasized. The concept of the ethereal soul and corporeal soul, the significance of Outer Bladder channel points for treating mental symptoms, and the various other points that have a special bearing on psychologic and related syndromes are discussed. Four cases are presented, illustrating the success and limitations of acupuncture as a mode of therapy for depression. Written informed consent was obtained from all patients included in the illustrative cases presented.

Conclusions: Based on the knowledge of mental/emotional effects of various acupuncture points, and selecting a group of points that are unique for a particular patient based on his or her signs and symptoms, and correcting the total disharmony pattern of that patient, depression can be treated successfully with acupuncture in the majority of cases.

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New Study: How Acupuncture Reduces Stress Levels 

New Study: How Acupuncture Reduces Stress Levels  | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |
New Study: How Acupuncture Reduces Stress Levels WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27, 2013 AT 9:53AM

Good news, acupuncture fans: It really does help relieve stress. And now, a new study is giving a closer look at why.

The new study explores the biological mechanisms involved in acupuncture's stress-relieving abilities, something science has yet to fully understand.

The researchers discovered that stress hormones were lower in rats that had received electronic acupuncture. Results were published in the Journal of Endocrinology.

"Many practitioners of acupuncture have observed that this ancient practice can reduce stress in their patients, but there is a lack of biological proof of how or why this happens. We're starting to understand what's going on at the molecular level that helps explain acupuncture's benefit,” study researcher Dr. Ladan Eshkevari, an associate professor of nursing at Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, said in a statement.

For the study, Eshkevari and colleagues designed a series of tests with electronic acupuncture to ensure that each rat received the exact same dose of pressure. Eshkevari targeted the spot below the knee, or the “Zusanli” point, with the needle. This area is the same in rats and humans and it is reported that stimulating it can alleviate stress and other conditions.

For the 10-day experiment, researchers split the rats into four groups. One group was a control group with no added stress and no acupuncture; one group was made to be stressed out for an hour each day but didn't receive acupuncture; one group was made to feel stressed for an hour each day but received "sham" acupuncture by their tails; and one group was made to feel stressed and received the genuine acupuncture treatment at the Zusanli area.

The body secretes an assortment of hormones into the bloodstream as a reaction to stress, which the researchers were then able to measure in the rats. They assessed blood hormone levels secreted by the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the adrenal gland -- together these are known as the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis. They also measured a peptide involved in creatures' "fight or flight" responses, called NPY.

Researchers discovered that the "...electronic acupuncture blocks the chronic, stress-induced elevations of the HPA axis hormones and the sympathetic NPY pathway,” Eshkevari said in the statement.

Since stress has been linked with detrimental health effects including heart disease and even brain shrinkage it’s important to study any measures to combat its detrimental nature.


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Is there an "Acupuncture Molecule" ? Tests show acupuncture affects your body on a molecular level: - the Classical Medicine Journal

Is there an "Acupuncture Molecule" ? Tests show acupuncture affects your body on a molecular level: - the Classical Medicine Journal | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |


 there an "Acupuncture Molecule" ? Test show acupuncture affects your body on a molecular level:FRIDAY, JANUARY 6, 2012 AT 10:17AM

 Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center have found that acupuncture reduces the levels of a protein-like substance in rats linked to chronic stress.

 If replicated in humans, acupuncture could offer a therapy for stress, which is often difficult to treat. 

“It has long been thought that acupuncture can reduce stress, but this is the first study to show molecular proof of this benefit,” said the study’s lead author, Ladan Eshevari, Ph.D., an assistant professor. 
Eshkevari, a certified acupuncturist, conducted the study because many of the patients she treats with acupuncture reported a “better overall sense of well-being — and they often remarked that they felt less stress.” 
 While the World Health Organization states that acupuncture is useful as adjunct therapy in more than 50 disorders, including chronic stress, Eshevari said that no one has biological proof that it does so. 
She designed a study to test the effect of acupuncture on blood levels of neuropeptide Y (NPY), a peptide that is secreted by the sympathetic nervous system in humans. This system is involved in the “flight or fight” response to stress. 
 Rats are often used to research the biological determinants of stress because they mount a stress response when exposed to winter-like cold temperatures for an hour a day.

 Eshevari allowed the rats to become familiar with her, and encouraged them to rest by crawling into a small sock that exposed their legs. She conditioned them to become comfortable with the kind of stimulation used in electroacupuncture — an acupuncture needle that delivers a painless, small electrical charge. 
This form of acupuncture is a little more intense than manual acupuncture and is often used for pain management, she said, adding “I used electroacupuncture because I could make sure that every rat was getting the same treatment dose.”

 She then selected a single acupuncture spot to test: Zuslanli (ST 35 on the stomach meridian), which is said to help relieve a variety of conditions, including stress. That acupuncture point for rats — and humans — is on the leg below the knee.

 The study, published online in December in Experimental Biology and Medicine, utilized four groups of rats for a 14-day experiment: A control group that was not stressed and received no acupuncture; a group that was stressed for an hour a day and did not receive acupuncture; a group that was stressed and received “sham” acupuncture near the tail; and the experimental group that were stressed and received acupuncture to the Zuslanli spot on the leg.

 She found NPY levels in the experimental group came down almost to the level of the control group, while the rats that were stressed and not treated with Zuslanli acupuncture had high levels of the protein. 
In a second experiment, she stopped acupuncture in the experimental group but continued to stress the rats for an additional four days, and found NPY levels remained low. “We were surprised to find what looks to be a protective effect against stress,” she said.

 Source: Georgetown University Medical Center 2011/12/22/rat-study-shows- acupuncture-lowers-stress-molecule/32782.html

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Acupuncture proven just as good as counseling for treating depression

Acupuncture proven just as good as counseling for treating depression | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |
Acupuncture proven just as good as counseling for treating depression


(NaturalNews) If you or someone you know suffers from moderate to severe depression, counseling and acupuncture could be your answers to finding real relief. A new study recently published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE found that acupuncture is at least equally as effective as counseling at treating depression symptoms and that acupuncture in particular can lead to a nearly 50 percent reduction on the depression scale in just three months.

To arrive at this conclusion, Hugh MacPherson and his colleagues from the University of York in the U.K. evaluated 755 patients with moderate to severe depression. According to Reuters, 302 of these patients were randomly assigned to a group that received 12 weekly acupuncture sessions, while another 302 were assigned to 12 weekly counseling sessions. The remaining 151 patients received usual care, which presumably included antidepressants and other pharmaceuticals.

At the beginning of the study, the average depression score among all patients was 16 on a scale from 0 to 27, with 27 representing extreme depression. A 16, according to reports, is considered to be moderately severe depression. But at the end of three months, patients in the acupuncture group experienced a significant drop on the scale from an average of 16 down to nine, which is considered to be the higher end of the mild depression category. The average depression score also dropped in the counseling group, to an average of 11, while the typical care group only dropped to about 13.

Even better was the fact that the benefits of these treatments persisted, lasting an additional three months following the study's conclusion. In other words, even after the study was over, patients in the acupuncture and counseling groups continued to experience the benefits of these treatments.

"For people who have depression, who have tried various medical options, who are still not getting the benefit they want, they should try acupuncture or counseling as options that are now known to be clinically effective," stated MacPherson about the incredible results. "What's more important for the patient is does it work in practice and that is the question we were asking."

Growing body of research points to acupuncture as viable alternative to psychiatric meds

The study admittedly had its limitations, as roughly 70 percent of all patients had taken antidepressants in the three months before the study. Some of them also continued taking these medications during the study, and the authors did not specify which patients these were from each group. Still, the results help reinforce the notion that other treatments besides just drugs can provide formidable benefits without eliciting harmful side effects.

"What this says is if you don't get completely better, there are other options," added Dr. Philip Muskin, a psychiatrist from the Columbia University Medical Center in New York who was not involved in the study, to Reuters. "One option would be to take a different medication, but by this study [acupuncture and counseling] would be valid options."

Previous studies have also come to similar conclusions, including a study put out by the Cleveland Clinic's Center for Integrative Medicine earlier this summer. Researchers there found that acupuncture can be utilized apart from psychiatric drugs in the treatment of depression, and actually be used in place of them, though that particularly study looked specifically at mild to moderate depression.

"What we're finding is that for these patients that are suffering from mild to moderate depression, acupuncture is just as effective as these antidepressants," stated Jamie Starkey, an acupuncturist at the clinic.

Sources for this article include:



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Namibia: Acupuncture Therapy Becomes Popular

Namibia: Acupuncture Therapy Becomes Popular | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |
Between 500 and 600 Namibians a month flock to the acupuncture unit manned by a team of Chinese doctors at the Katutura State Hospital in Windhoek.


Between 500 and 600 Namibians a month flock to the acupuncture unit manned by a team of Chinese doctors at the Katutura State Hospital in Windhoek.


Acupuncture is a component of the health care system of China that can be traced back to at least 2 500 years.


The general theory of acupuncture is based on the premise that there are patterns of energy flow (Qi) through the body that are essential for health.


Disruptions of this flow are believed to be responsible for disease. Acupuncture may, it has been theorized, correct imbalances of flow at identifiable points close to the skin.


The Chinese and the Namibian governments have an agreement through the Ministry of Health and Social Services whereby an acupuncture department was opened in 1996 at the Katutura State Hospital sponsored by the People's Republic of China.


Namibian patients can be treated free of charge for ailments such as back pains, other chronic pain, stroke, body injuries, gastro diseases, depression, insomnia and high blood pressure, amongst others.


The Chinese government funds the unit and it pays for the acupuncture machines and acupuncture medicine.


Speaking to New Era on Friday, Dr Jiwei Yu who is the head of Chinese doctors designated to the acupuncture department of the Katutura hospital said the Chinese technique of acupuncture is currently recognised and comparable to Western medicine.


He explained that they treat on average between 30 to 40 patients per day and on a monthly basis up to 600.


"Our patients vary from children to the youth and the elderly. We use different acupoints to treat different ailments. Acupuncture and massage is an old ancient treatment dating back some 2 000 years. To this day we use it all over China and it has now spread to other parts of the world including Namibia," Dr Yu noted.


Further, he said the technique is simple, convenient, effective and not expensive compared to modern medicine.


He also revealed acupuncture does not have side-effects like Western medicine.


"The patients get well when they come here because modern medicine normally does not help them much. We are very happy with the reception we get from our patients. Local people are friendly towards us," he said.


They are however faced with the language barrier because not all patients speak English. But he said the hospital has given them a nurse who sits at the department to assist with interpreting.


He called on more people to visit the acupuncture department for treatment.


Acupuncture is a family of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical locations on or in the skin by a variety of techniques.


The most thoroughly studied mechanism of stimulation of acupuncture points employs penetration of the skin by thin, solid, metallic needles, which are manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation.

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Acupuncture for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Conceptual, Clinical, and Biological Data Support Further Research - Hollifield - 2011 - CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics - Wiley Online Library

Acupuncture for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Conceptual, Clinical, and Biological Data Support Further Research - Hollifield - 2011 - CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics - Wiley Online Library | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |

Keywords:Anxiety disorders;Acupuncture;Mechanisms;Posttraumatic stressSUMMARY

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common, debilitating, and has highly heterogeneous clinical and biological features. With the exception of one published preliminary clinical trial, rationale in support of the efficacy of acupuncture, a modality of Chinese medicine (CM), for PTSD has not been well described. This is a focused review of conceptual and clinical features of PTSD shared by modern western medicine (MWM) and CM, and of biological mechanisms of acupuncture that parallel known PTSD pathology. MWM and CM both recognize individual developmental variables and interactions between external conditions and internal responses in the genesis of PTSD. There is one published and one unpublished clinical trial that preliminarily support the efficacy of acupuncture for PTSD. Although there have been no mechanistic studies of acupuncture in human PTSD, extant research shows that acupuncture has biological effects that are relevant to PTSD pathology. Conceptual, clinical, and biological data support possible efficacy of acupuncture for PTSD. However, further definitive research about simultaneous clinical and biological effects is needed to support the use of acupuncture for PTSD in health care systems.


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Acupuncture and related interventions for smoking cessation - The Cochrane Library - White - Wiley Online Library

Acupuncture and related interventions for smoking cessation - The Cochrane Library - White - Wiley Online Library | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |


Acupuncture and related techniques are promoted as a treatment for smoking cessation in the belief that they may reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms.


The objectives of this review are to determine the effectiveness of acupuncture and the related interventions of acupressure, laser therapy and electrostimulation in smoking cessation, in comparison with no intervention, sham treatment, or other interventions.

Search methods

We searched the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group Specialized Register (which includes trials of smoking cessation interventions identified from the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsycINFO) and AMED in October 2013. We also searched four Chinese databases in September 2013: Sino-Med, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang Data and VIP.

Selection criteria

Randomized trials comparing a form of acupuncture, acupressure, laser therapy or electrostimulation with either no intervention, sham treatment or another intervention for smoking cessation.

Data collection and analysis

We extracted data in duplicate on the type of smokers recruited, the nature of the intervention and control procedures, the outcome measures, method of randomization, and completeness of follow-up.

We assessed abstinence from smoking at the earliest time-point (before six weeks) and at the last measurement point between six months and one year. We used the most rigorous definition of abstinence for each trial, and biochemically validated rates if available. Those lost to follow-up were counted as continuing smokers. Where appropriate, we performed meta-analysis pooling risk ratios using a fixed-effect model.

Main results

We included 38 studies. Based on three studies, acupuncture was not shown to be more effective than a waiting list control for long-term abstinence, with wide confidence intervals and evidence of heterogeneity (n = 393, risk ratio [RR] 1.79, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.98 to 3.28, I⊃2; = 57%). Compared with sham acupuncture, the RR for the short-term effect of acupuncture was 1.22 (95% CI 1.08 to 1.38), and for the long-term effect was 1.10 (95% CI 0.86 to 1.40). The studies were not judged to be free from bias, and there was evidence of funnel plot asymmetry with larger studies showing smaller effects. The heterogeneity between studies was not explained by the technique used. Acupuncture was less effective than nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). There was no evidence that acupuncture is superior to psychological interventions in the short- or long-term. There is limited evidence that acupressure is superior to sham acupressure for short-term outcomes (3 trials, n = 325, RR 2.54, 95% CI 1.27 to 5.08), but no trials reported long-term effects, The pooled estimate for studies testing an intervention that included continuous auricular stimulation suggested a short-term benefit compared to sham stimulation (14 trials, n = 1155, RR 1.69, 95% CI 1.32 to 2.16); subgroup analysis showed an effect for continuous acupressure (7 studies, n = 496, RR 2.73, 95% CI 1.78 to 4.18) but not acupuncture with indwelling needles (6 studies, n = 659, RR 1.24, 95% CI 0.91 to 1.69). At longer follow-up the CIs did not exclude no effect (5 trials, n = 570, RR 1.47, 95% CI 0.79 to 2.74). The evidence from two trials using laser stimulation was inconsistent and could not be combined. The combined evidence on electrostimulation suggests it is not superior to sham electrostimulation (short-term abstinence: 6 trials, n = 634, RR 1.13, 95% CI 0.87 to 1.46; long-term abstinence: 2 trials, n = 405, RR 0.87, 95% CI 0.61 to 1.23).

Authors' conclusions

Although pooled estimates suggest possible short-term effects there is no consistent, bias-free evidence that acupuncture, acupressure, or laser therapy have a sustained benefit on smoking cessation for six months or more. However, lack of evidence and methodological problems mean that no firm conclusions can be drawn. Electrostimulation is not effective for smoking cessation. Well-designed research into acupuncture, acupressure and laser stimulation is justified since these are popular interventions and safe when correctly applied, though these interventions alone are likely to be less effective than evidence-based interventions.

 Jump to…Plain language summaryDo acupuncture and related therapies help smokers who are trying to quit

We reviewed the evidence that acupuncture, acupressure, laser therapy or electrical stimulation help people who are trying to stop smoking.


Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese therapy, generally using fine needles inserted through the skin at specific points in the body. Needles may be stimulated by hand or using an electric current (electroacupuncture). Related therapies, in which points are stimulated without the use of needles, include acupressure, laser therapy and electrical stimulation. Needles and acupressure may be used just during treatment sessions, or continuous stimulation may be provided by using indwelling needles or beads or seeds taped to to acupressure points. The aim of these therapies is to reduce the withdrawal symptoms that people experience when they try to quit smoking. The review looked at trials comparing active treatments with sham treatments or other control conditions including advice alone, or an effective treatment such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or counselling. Sham treatment involves inserting needles or applying pressure to other points of the body not believed to have an active effect, or using dummy needles that do not go through the skin, or inactive laser or electrical stimulation devices. Using this type of control means that the patients should not know whether they are receiving active treatment or not.

To assess whether there was a sustained benefit in helping people to stop smoking we looked at the proportion of people who were abstinent at least six months after quit date. We also looked at short term outcomes, up to six weeks after quit date. Evidence of benefit after six months is regarded as necessary to show that a treatment could help people stop smoking permanently.

Study characteristics

We included 38 randomised studies published up to October 2013. Trials tested a variety of different interventions and controls. The specific points used, the number of sessions and whether there was continuous stimulation varied. Three studies (393 people) compared acupuncture to a waiting list control. Nineteen studies (1,588 people) compared active acupuncture to sham acupuncture, but only 11 of these studies included long-term follow-up of six months or more. Three studies (253 people) compared acupressure to sham acupressure but none had long-term follow-up. Two trials used laser stimulation and six (634 people) used electrostimulation. The overall quality of the evidence was moderate.

Key findings

Three studies comparing acupuncture to a waiting list control and reporting long-term abstinence did not show clear evidence of benefit. For acupuncture compared with sham acupuncture, there was weak evidence of a small short-term benefit but not of any long-term benefit. Acupuncture was less effective than nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and not shown to be better than counselling. There was limited evidence that acupressure is superior to sham acupressure in the short term but no evidence about long-term effects. In an analysis of the subgroup of trials where the treatment included continuous stimulation, those trials which used continuous acupressure to points on the ear had the largest short-term effect. The evidence from two trials using laser stimulation was inconsistent. The seven trials of electrostimulation do not suggest evidence of benefit compared to sham electrostimulation.

The review did not find consistent evidence that active acupuncture or related techniques increased the number of people who could successfully quit smoking. However, some techniques may be better than doing nothing, at least in the short term, and there is not enough evidence to dismiss the possibility that they might have an effect greater than placebo. They are likely to be less effective than current evidence-based interventions. They are safe when correctly applied.


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New Study - Acupuncture Works for Anxiety, Depression & PMS

New Study - Acupuncture Works for Anxiety, Depression & PMS | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |
Researchers from the Harvard Medical School and the Advanced Integrative Rehabilitation and Pain Center conclude that “there is high-level evidence to support the use of acupuncture for treating major depressive disorder in pregnancy.”
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Acupuncture Blog Chicago: Chinese Medicine and Mental Health

Acupuncture Blog Chicago: Chinese Medicine and Mental Health | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |
Thursday, June 5, 2014Chinese Medicine and Mental Health 

Mental health disorders are more common than you think. According to the NIH (National Institutes of Health), about one in four adults suffer from a mental disorder every year.

Mental health disorders are medical conditions that take many forms and affect people to varying degrees. Mental disorders can cause disturbed thinking, an inability to cope with daily tasks, impaired work performance, feelings of worthlessness, delusions, mood swings, a compromised immune system, insomnia, fatigue and difficulty relating to others. Whether it is a serious mental illness or a mild, temporary state, acupuncture is an excellent, safe addition to almost any treatment plan. This is an area where Chinese Medicine shines because it treats the whole person - mental and physical - at the same time. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the two are not seen as separate entities as they are in Western medicine.

In my book, Adventures in Chinese Medicine: Acupuncture, Herbs and Ancient Ideas For Today, I write about the philosophical differences between Eastern and Western Medicine. Here is a short excerpt:

‘Western medicine depends heavily on science, with its ideological roots in Greece and Egypt. Rene Descartes (1596-1650), the famous French philosopher and one of the fathers of modern science and mathematics, greatly influenced the formation of the scientific method. As a scientist, in order to get bodies to dissect, he made a deal with the Pope that medicine would confine itself to the body. People’s emotions and souls would be the province of the Church.

This overly simplistic explanation points out the evolution of Western medicine’s creation of a separation of mind and body, viewing the body as a complex system of biological parts, rather than a holistic unit. Certainly Western medicine has accomplished amazing things, but it is not the only path to wellness.’
Chinese Medicine, including treatments of acupuncture and herbal medicine, can alleviate many of the unpleasant symptoms associated with mental health issues and the side effects related to prescription medications. In TCM, mental health disorders are seen as a disturbance in the flow of Qi. Think of it like an energetic imbalance. This imbalance can lead to many problems, both physical and emotional. The aim in Chinese Medicine is to treat the unique individuals and their specific symptoms in order to improve their overall well-being. This is why patients with the same Western diagnosis will be treated with different acupuncture points as well as different lifestyle and dietary recommendations.

From a Western perspective, this is how acupuncture helps:

1. Acupuncture raises the level of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are chemicals
naturally produced in the brain to fight pain. They can also positively affect your mood.

2. Acupuncture can lower blood pressure, induce relaxation, increase circulation, decrease anxiety and treat sleeplessness to help patients better regulate their emotions and responses to stress. 

3. Acupuncture can help regulate serotonin, a chemical in the brain that affects a person's emotional state.

In short, Chinese Medicine is just what the doctor ordered (even if they didn't). TCM has mental health benefits. Give your acupuncturist a call today!

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The Stress Connection: An Acupuncturist's Perspective - The Epoch Times

The Stress Connection: An Acupuncturist's Perspective - The Epoch Times | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |
Have you ever experienced repeated acute pain, or the exacerbation of chronic pain, especially when you are feeling stressed?


Have you ever experienced repeated occurrences of acute pain, or the exacerbation of chronic pain, especially when you are feeling stressed? 

For instance, you just got up from a chair or the couch and all of a sudden you can’t move! You wrack your brain trying to figure out what could have caused it. You can’t think of anything you did out of the ordinary. Underlying stress could be the culprit!

Signs of stress include back pain, neck and shoulder pain, headaches, abdominal pain, and anger and irritability. We can explain these problems using the diagnostics of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. A system of medicine that has been used to successfully treat a majority of the world’s population for over 3,000 years, it sees the human being as a microcosm of the larger natural environment in which we live. 

Just as a river, when there is a free flow of qi, or vital energy, your system can function optimally. The result is that you feel good and are not in pain! 

When there are blockages of the qi in your system, you experience pain and other health problems. There is a wise Chinese saying, “Tong Zhi Bu Tong, Bu Tong Zhi Tong,” which means: When there is pain there is no free flow, when there is free flow there is no pain. This constrained qi, as termed diagnostically in Chinese medicine, causes pain and other symptoms of imbalance. 

Your Natural Healing Ability

Your body and mind know how to maintain your health when your system is functioning well. This concept is called homeostasis in western medicine. Common western medical treatment will often mask the pain with strong medications. 

However, a major goal and approach of acupuncture care is to determine where the blockages are in your energetic system and help to restore its free flow. This allows the natural healing ability of your body and mind to resolve the pain as well as its underlying causes. 

My patients often experience relief not only from the symptoms they sought treatment for, but also notice an improvement in other functional health issues as well.

The Role of Stress

How does stress come into this picture? It is the emotional, physical, and chemical stresses that we are under that cause constrained qi in the first place. In fact, it disrupts the important free flow of qi (energy), blood, and fluids in your body. To function optimally, every cell, organ and muscle must get what it needs. Blockages do not allow this and you experience symptoms of pain or illness. 

If you tune in to how you feel when you are upset or worried about a deadline at work, you are actually feeling the blocked energy manifested by the tension starting in your shoulders and neck, the headache, the pain in your lower back, or the queasy bloated feeling in your stomach. They may all be related to your stress levels. 

As I always say to my patients, I can’t do much about the sources of your stress, but acupuncture can help change how your system handles the stress. And, it may help your body dissipate its stress by restoring the free flow of qi. 

Using the five element system of Chinese medicine as a filter, we can relate the lack of free flow to an imbalance in the wood element, with the corresponding channels of the liver and gallbladder. When we are under stress, usually the first organ to be affected is the liver, which is responsible for maintaining free flow of the qi, blood, and fluids in your system. 

The liver energy becomes imbalanced and its ability to function optimally is impeded. In addition to maintaining free flow, the liver stores blood, rules the tendons, and opens to the eyes. Anger, irritability, and depression are some of its corresponding emotions. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM style), this imbalance is identified as the pattern of “liver depression qi stagnation.” 

In the coming weeks, we will take a closer look at common types of pain such as low back pain, headaches, shoulder and neck pain, joint pain, and abdominal pain. Maybe you or someone you know will relate to the experiences, symptoms, and treatments that will be discussed. 

Cindy E. Levitz, M.S., L.Ac. is a Diplomate in Oriental Medicine, NCCAOM. She has been in private practice since 1996. Specialties: Stress/Anxiety & Pain Reduction, Women’s Health Issues. Complimentary consultation: 

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Acupuncture increases effect of antidepressants: clinical study

Acupuncture increases effect of antidepressants: clinical study | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |


Amelin, A. V., Vasil'ev IuN, Ignatov IuD, and Skoromets, A. A.; [The combined use of acupuncture and antidepressants for managing the spondylogenic lumbosacral pain syndrome]. [RUSSIAN]. Farmakol Toksikol 1991. Vol.54[5], p.12-13. Abstract: The effects of antidepressants amitriptyline and pyrazidol on the analgesic action of acupuncture in patients with lumbosacral radiculitis was studied by the double blind control method. The combined use of acupuncture with antidepressants was shown to enhance the effectiveness of the treatment, to increase on the average by 5-6 hours the duration of analgesia within 24 hours after each procedure, to reduce the duration of the treatment on the average by 4-5 days, that indicates the expediency of clinical use of the proposed combination. Clinical trial

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Navy psychiatrist's acupuncture, meditation methods embraced by special operators

Navy psychiatrist's acupuncture, meditation methods embraced by special operators | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |
Psychiatrist Capt. Robert Koffman has more than 20 years of operational medicine and combat stress expertise, but he's probably best known for sticking lots of needles in special operators.
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'Zusanli' the Acupuncture Point for Overall Wellness and Vitality

'Zusanli' the Acupuncture Point for Overall Wellness and Vitality | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |
Stomach 36, called 'Zusanli' in Chinese and 'Leg Three Miles' in English, is the point I recommend most often for my patients to use at home with acupressure.
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Reducing Anxiety with acupuncture: a case study

Reducing Anxiety with acupuncture: a case study | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |

Reducing the anxiety of a mother with auricular acupuncture whose child is undergoing surgery, resulted in less anxiety in both the mother and the child.

Article Link: Acupuncture Calms Mom’s Stress, Anxiety

Brief: A parent’s anxiety leaps when their child is going into surgery. But a new study shows acupuncture needles — carefully placed around the mother’s ear — can decrease her anxiety. When moms are less anxious, there’s less anxiety in children, experts say.

Auricular or ear acupuncture has long been known to relieve stress and anxiety. Until now, however, it was not known that needles placed around the ear were so effective in relieving parental anxiety associated with a childs’ surgery, a constant and very real concern for doctors.

Researcher Shu-Ming Wang, MD, at the Yale University School of Medicine. Wang presented study findings at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists being held in San Francisco this week.

In Wang’s study, 43 mothers randomly chosen to get auricular acupuncture 30 minutes before their child’s surgery had significantly less anxiety than the 49 mothers who got acupuncture but at the shoulder points, wrists, and joint positions.

Also, there was significantly less anxiety in children who’s mothers received auricular acupuncture to reduce anxiety when they were wheeled into the operating room, and when the anesthesia mask was put on their faces.

In fact, after the surgery was over, 51% of the auricular acupuncture-group mothers asked to keep the needles in place.

While mothers were skeptical about the acupuncture procedure, the results were indisputable, researchers say.

“After the insertion of needles into the [ear], most of them were pleasantly surprised and asked, ‘Is that it?'” says Wang in a news release. The procedure involves small needles that resemble flat thumbtacks. They are unobstrusive, effective, have no side effects, and are virtually painless.

In fact, “many of the patients laughed after I showed them the needles, and only a handful of them experienced a slight stinging sensation,” Wang says.

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New Acupuncture Study for Gulf War Syndrome  - the Classical Medicine Journal

New Acupuncture Study for Gulf War Syndrome  - the Classical Medicine Journal | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |
New Acupuncture Study for Gulf War Syndrome MONDAY, APRIL 2, 2012 AT 10:31AM

WASHINGTON — Army officials recently gave a six-month extension to researchers investigating whether acupuncture can be effective in treating Gulf War Syndrome. Now, the study is looking for 30 more veterans to take part in the effort.

Lisa Conboy, co-director of research at the New England School of Acupuncture and a coordinator for the study, said the results of the three-year study still have to be finalized, but officials have seen positive feedback on the treatments.

About 120 veterans have taken part, undergoing acupuncture treatments to evaluate their effect on managing headaches, muscle soreness and other pain associated with the controversial disorder.

Conboy said she has noticed in recent years a larger willingness by military and veterans officials to consider alternative medicine such as acupuncture, a development she said is encouraging for patients seeking pain relief. Researchers are hopeful their final results will reinforce that progress.

The 30 new volunteers must live in the Northeast and suffer from Gulf War Syndrome. Veterans can apply by calling 617-558-1788 ext. 269 or emailing


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Differential Activation Patterns of fMRI in Sleep-Deprived Brain: Restoring Effects of Acupuncture

Differential Activation Patterns of fMRI in Sleep-Deprived Brain: Restoring Effects of Acupuncture | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM) is an international, peer-reviewed journal that seeks to understand the sources and to encourage rigorous research in this new, yet ancient world of complementary and alternative medicine.


Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 465760, 7 pages ArticleDifferential Activation Patterns of fMRI in Sleep-Deprived Brain: Restoring Effects of AcupunctureLei Gao,1 Ming Zhang,1 Honghan Gong,2 Lijun Bai,3 Xi-jian Dai,2 Youjiang Min,4 and Fuqing Zhou2

1Department of Medical Imaging, The First Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University, 277 West Yanta Road, Xi’an, Shaanxi Province 710061, China
2Department of Radiology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, Nanchang, Jiangxi Province 330006, China
3The Key Laboratory of Biomedical Information Engineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering, School of Life Science and Technology, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Ministry of Education, China
4Acupuncture & Rehabilitation Department, Affiliated Hospital of Jiangxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Nanchang, Jiangxi Province 330006, China

Received 23 April 2014; Revised 15 May 2014; Accepted 16 May 2014; Published 15 June 2014

Academic Editor: Baixiao Zhao

Copyright © 2014 Lei Gao et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Previous studies suggested a remediation role of acupuncture in insomnia, and acupuncture also has been used in insomnia empirically and clinically. In this study, we employed fMRI to test the role of acupuncture in sleep deprivation (SD). Sixteen healthy volunteers (8 males) were recruited and scheduled for three fMRI scanning procedures, one following the individual’s normal sleep and received acupuncture SP6 (NOR group) and the other two after 24 h of total SD with acupuncture on SP6 (SD group) or sham (Sham group). The sessions were counterbalanced approximately two weeks apart. Acupuncture stimuli elicited significantly different activation patterns of three groups. In NOR group, the right superior temporal lobe, left inferior parietal lobule, and left postcentral gyrus were activated; in SD group, the anterior cingulate cortex, bilateral insula, left basal ganglia, and thalamus were significantly activated while, in Sham group, the bilateral thalamus and left cerebellum were activated. Different activation patterns suggest a unique role of acupuncture on SP6 in remediation of SD. SP6 elicits greater and anatomically different activations than those of sham stimuli; that is, the salience network, a unique interoceptive autonomic circuit, may indicate the mechanism underlying acupuncture in restoring sleep deprivation.

1. Introduction

Acupuncture is an important element of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that can be traced back for at least 4,000 years. In recent years, it has gained great popularity as an alternative and complementary therapeutic intervention in the Western medicine. Neuroimaging techniques have provided new insights into the anatomy and physiological function underlying acupuncture [1–13].

Acupuncture is widely used in insomnia clinically and empirically; however, the potential neural mechanism underlying the therapeutic effects of acupuncture remains little known. As one of the most prevalent health complaints worldwide, insomnia affects approximately 10% of the population in Western industrialized countries [14] and is associated with a marked reduction in quality of life, increased fatigue, cognitive impairments, mood disturbances, and physical complaints due to its chronic sleep loss [15]. Acute sleep loss, or sleep deprivation (SD), to some extent, is an alternative form of acute insomnia. Because of its maneuverability, much research work has been carried out in short-term sleep deprivation (24 h) and found that sleep deprivation adversely affects brain function and cognitive domains [16, 17].





Many studies have suggested a remediation role of acupuncture on Sanyinjiao acupoint for sleep disturbance [18,19]. The Sanyinjiao acupoint, also known internationally as Spleen 6 (SP6), is the junction point of the liver, spleen, and kidney meridians based on principles of TCM, and it is proposed to strengthen the spleen, resolve and expel dampness, and restore balance to the yin and blood, liver, and kidneys [20]. If acupuncture induces homeostatic force in renormalizing the neuronal responses, then activation patterns involved may be differentially affected by acupuncture or sham stimuli under conditions of SD. In the present study, we employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to insight the role of acupuncture on SP6 in sleep deprivation induced cortical activation. The use of fMRI to assess neuronal activity in response to acupuncture stimuli allows us to examine not only neuronal processes regulating acupuncture but also the biphasic regulation effects of acupuncture.

2. Materials and Methods2.1. Subjects

Sixteen healthy volunteers (8 females, mean age of  years) were recruited in this study after giving informed consent. Participants were selected from respondents to a web-based questionnaire. They should meet the following criteria: (1) of right hand according to the modified Edinburgh Handedness Questionnaire [21]; (2) of 20 and 24 years of age; (3) of habitual good sleeping habits (sleeping no less than 6.5 h each night for the past one month); (4) of no extreme morning or evening chromotype (score no greater than 22 on a modified Morningness-Eveningness Scale, [22]); (5) of no long-term medications; (6) of no symptoms associated with sleep disorders; (7) of no history of any psychiatric or neurologic disorders; (8) of no history of drug abuse and current use of antidepressant or hypnotic medications; (9) of acupuncture naive. Participants had an average of  years of education. This study was approved by the Medical Research Ethics Committee and Institutional Review Board of The First Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University.

2.2. Experimental Protocol

All subjects were scheduled for three fMRI scanning procedures, one following the individual’s normal sleep and received acupuncture at SP6 (NOR group) and the other two after a night of total SD with acupuncture on SP6 (SD group) or sham (Sham group). The sessions were counterbalanced and approximately two weeks apart to minimize the residual effects of SD on cognition.

Acupuncture was performed at the acupoint SP6 on the right leg (Sanyinjiao, located in the medial lower leg, 9-10 cm above the prominence of the medial malleolus (ankle bone), and closed to the medial crest of the tibia). The needles used in the acupuncture protocol were sterile, disposable, and stainless steel acupuncture needles, which would not distort MR images, measuring 0.3 mm in diameter and 40 mm in length. The needle was inserted in SP6 with a depth of approximately 1.5 cm. Stimulation was then delivered by a balanced “tonifying and reducing” technique [1] and rotated manually clockwise and counterclockwise for 1 min at a rate of 60 times per min. Acupuncture was performed with “2 min stimuli-2 min rest-2 min stimuli” program during the task-state scanning. The procedure was performed by the same experienced and licensed acupuncturist on all subjects.

For the control of acupuncture manipulation, subjects also received the sham stimulation at a nonmeridian focus near SP6 (2-3 cm inwards from SP6) on the right leg using the same timing protocol as in the acupuncture run. The sham stimulation was delivered with the needle depth, stimulation intensity, and manipulation method identical to those used in the SP6 run.

2.3. fMRI Scanning Procedure

Functional scanning was incorporated with three runs in each session. Two resting-state runs, each lasting 4 min, were separated by a 6 min-6 seconds task-state block-designed run (Figure 1). Resting-state data were not presented in the current study. During the scanning, subjects lay supine on the scanner bed, wearing earplugs to suppress scanner noise and with the head immobilized by cushioned supports. They were instructed to keep their eyes closed and their minds clear and remain awake. In addition, the feelings of deqi were collected at the end of the session, including the soreness, numbness, fullness, heaviness, and dull pain. Subjects were asked to rate each component of the deqi feeling they had experienced during the stimulation period using a visual analog scale (VAS). The VAS was scaled at 0 = no sensation, 1–3 = mild, 4–6 = moderate, 7-8 = strong, 9 = severe, and 10 = unbearable sensations. Because the sharp pain was considered an inadvertent noxious stimulation, we excluded the subjects from further analysis if they experienced sharp pain (greater than the mean by more than two standard deviations). Among all the participants, only one experienced the sharp pain and was removed from further analysis.

Figure 1: Experimental paradigm. SP6 and Sham were located on the right leg. The arrows indicated the time points of needle insertion and withdrawal. The epoch of acupuncture manipulation lasted for “2 min-MA-2 min-rest-2 min-MA” as shown by the framework.2.4. MRI Data Acquisition

fMRI data were collected on a SIEMENS Trio 3.0 T scanner. Each subject lied on supine with the head in neutral position fixed comfortably by a belt and foam pads during the test. The scanning sessions included (1) localizer, (2) T1 MPRAGE anatomy (176 sagittal slices, thickness/gap = 1.0/0 mm, in-plane resolution = 256 × 256, FOV (field of view) = 240 mm × 240 mm, TR (repetition time) = 1,900 ms, TE (echo time) = 2.26 ms, and flip angle = 15°), (3) EPI-BOLD (36 axial slices, echo-planar imaging pulse sequence, thickness/gap = 5.0/1 mm, in-plane resolution = 64 × 64, TR = 3,000 ms, TE = 30 ms, flip angle = 90°, and FOV = 240 mm × 240 mm).

2.5. fMRI Data Analysis

All preprocessing and data analyses were performed by using SPM8 (Wellcome Department of Cognitive Neurology, London, UK). For each participant, the first 2 scans of each task-state run were discarded, and the remaining images were slice-time corrected and spatially realigned to the first volume of the first run to correct for motion. The structural scan was coregistered to a mean image of the realigned functional scans. The coregistered functional scans were then normalized to the Montreal Neurological Institute template brain (resampled voxel size = 3 × 3 × 3 mm3) and spatially smoothed with a Gaussian kernel of 8 mm.

To investigate the acupuncture effect, general linear model (GLM) was used to analyze the block-designed data. Vectors of stimulus onsets were created for each of the acupuncture and rest conditions and convolved with the canonical hemodynamic response function. A 480 s temporal high-pass filter was applied to the data to remove low-frequency artifacts. Contrasts for acupuncture versus rest in three groups (i.e., NOR, SD, and Sham) were created for each subject. Thresholds for active brain regions were set at a cluster extent of >10 voxels and a voxel level of . After individual analyses, a one way within-subject ANOVA and post hoc were performed and paired -test for group analysis was performed by using the same statistical parameters to compare regional brain activity with acupuncture versus rest for rested wakeful and sleep deprivation. Statistical analyses were performed by using SPM8. Only the coordinates from the largest cluster for each brain region are presented in the main tables for regions with multiple locations.

3. Results

4 subjects were excluded on discovery of excessive head motion or experienced the sharp pain during the task. A total of 12 participants (5 men) completed the fMRI protocol.

Rested-Wakeful Condition: Acupuncture versus Baseline. Under habitual sleep, responses to acupuncture versus baseline stimuli were found in left middle frontal area (MFA), medial frontal gyrus (MFG), precentral area (PreCG), postcentral area (PoCG), left putamen (PUT), anterior cingulate (ACC), right superior temporal gyrus (STG), insula (INS), and right inferior parietal lobe (IPL) (Figure 2(a), Table 1).

Table 1: Activations for NOR group during acupuncturing on SP6 compared with a resting baseline are shown. (, cluster >10 voxels, uncorrected).Figure 2: (a) Activations for NOR group during acupuncturing on SP6, compared with a resting baseline are shown. (b) Activations for SD group during acupuncturing on SP6, compared with a resting baseline are shown. (c) Activations for Sham group during acupuncturing on Sham, compared with a resting baseline are shown. (d) Group differences between Sham and SD. Cool color indicates that the Sham group had decreased activations compared with the SD group. All images were normalized to the standardized space defined by MNI using the structural MRI of each subject.

Sleep Deprivation Condition: Acupuncture versus Baseline. Under the sleep deprivation condition, greater neuronal activation was observed in the responses to acupuncture versus baseline. Activations were found in the right ACC, bilateral thalamus, bilateral INS, right MFG, bilateral STG, bilateral middle temporal gyrus (MTG), left PoCG, bilateral caudate (CAU), right uncal gyrus, left PUT, fusiform, right cerebellum anterior lobe, and so forth (Figure 2(b), Table 2).

Table 2: Activations for SD group during acupuncturing on SP6 compared with a resting baseline are shown (, cluster >10 voxels, uncorrected).

Sleep Deprivation Condition: Sham versus Baseline. Under the sleep deprivation condition, Sham induced activations in the left superior frontal gyrus (SFG), bilateral MFG, bilateral PreCG, bilateral thalamus, bilateral INS, left pons, and left cerebellum posterior lobe (Figure 2(c), Table 3).

Table 3: Activations for Sham group during acupuncturing on SP6, compared with a resting baseline are shown (, cluster >20 voxels, uncorrected).

Sleep Deprivation Condition: Sham versus Acupuncture. To investigate the differences between Sham HAM and SP6 in sleep-deprived condition, a paired -test was performed between SD and Sham groups. Results indicated that the group differences of activations were significantly decreased in the Sham group than that of in the SD group, including right INS/thalamus, bilateral MTG, right hippocampus, and left cerebellum (Figure 2(d); Table4).

Table 4: Group differences between Sham and SD are shown (, cluster >20 voxels, uncorrected).4. Discussion

The present study investigated the activation patterns of acupuncture in SP6 in different sleep conditions. We found that acupuncture in SP6 increased regional brain activity primarily in the ACC, INS, basal ganglia, and limbic system after sleep deprivation, while Sham induced activations in the left SFG, bilateral MFG, bilateral precentral area, bilateral thalamus, bilateral INS, left pons, and left posterior lobe of the cerebellum. Although acupuncture also elicited increases the regional brain activity in the MFC/ACC, insular, and IPL during rested wakeful, both the extent and intensity of activation were reduced and much less widespread. Our findings may suggest that sleep deprivation alters neuronal activity, which predisposes individuals to contraction and enhanced responses to acupuncture and may partly explain the biphasic regulation effects of acupuncture.

Sleep constitutes an approximate one-third of the human lifetime, and many hypotheses have been proposed about its role in physiological functions, including homeostatic restoration, thermoregulation, tissue repair, immune control, memory processing, and consolidation [23, 24]. Sleep deprivation has been shown to have a negative impact on the brain and health [17]. Sleep deprivation falls under the category of “fatigue” and “sleepless” in TCM and stands for “excessive lassitude,” “visceral dysfunction,” deficiency of “qi and blood,” and yin-yang disharmony, though not yet been severe [25]. The remediation is to re-establish the equilibrium between them. Applying pressure at this acupuncture meridian can refresh the mind, sedate, nourish spleen and stomach, nourish liver, and produce other health effects [26].

In the present study, we found different neuronal activity patterns evoked by acupuncture under sleep deprivation and rested wakeful. In NOR group, a state of physical fitness, SP6 acupuncture evoked activations may indirectly reflect the neuronal responses of these regions, including MPFC, insula, putamen, lateral parietal lobes, and sensorimotor areas, which are frequently recruited in executive-control, sensory information processing, visceral regulation, social emotion, and self-awareness. Activations in these regions may be consistent with its widespread functions of SP6 in mental [27], gynecological [20, 26], and neurological diseases [27] as recorded.

In the SD group, more widespread brain regions were activated and the activation level as well as the strength was significantly higher than that of NOR and Sham group. Besides the above-mentioned activations in the NOR, ACC and insula were especially significantly activated both in extent and intensity. A prominent cognitive role of the ACC is processing errors and conflict [28, 29]. Salience network, composed of the anterior insular cortex and ACC, has received increasing attention [30–32]. This brain network is supposed to be implicated in multiple functions, ranging from attention to interoception and subjective awareness [33, 34]. The salience network integrates external sensory stimuli with internal states, and the anterior insula acts as a hub, mediating interactions between large-scale networks involved in externally and internally oriented cognitive processing [34,35]. Most remaining nodes in the salience network are subcortical sites for emotion, homeostatic regulation, and reward [34]. Regions such as the lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) and lateral parietal cortex are consistently recruited by cognitively demanding tasks and are critical for guidance of thought and behavior [36, 37]. In sleep deprivation, SP6 may exert an everlasting influence over the short-time period, as well as less maladaptive stimulation.

In Sham group, significant activations in the thalamus, pons, and basal ganglia were involved. This may indicate the impact of activations on the sleep deprivation itself. Under the extreme sleepy condition, more brain regions were involved in the compensation of maintaining the awareness and alert (thalamus and pons), while deactivations that occurred in the regions support advanced cognitive functions, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and parietal lobes. It is generally believed that the Sham mainly relates to the processes of maladaptive stimulation [1, 2]. But much of the effects represent sleep deprivation, emotional and visceral processing—the left medial prefrontal. Naturally, we would suppose that low activation level of brain salience network in response to salient Sham stimuli could be explained as a failure in remediation, because such response would indicate that more stimuli are necessary to produce salient stimuli in Sham.

Interestingly, in the first individual level analysis the extent of activations in NOR was greater than SD and Sham group, and second level group statistics vice versa, that is, a relatively weak group effect in NOR and greater group effects both in SD and Sham. We speculated that the reasons for this inconsistent were likely to reflect the biphasic regulation effects of acupuncture. In the NOR group, acupuncture in SP6 reveals sparse results which may relate to its multiple functions. In sleep deprivation, an imbalance occurs; acupuncture stands for a homeostatic force to renormalize the yin and yang, biphasic regulation effects of acupuncture. Another study also reported similarities. Our results support this hypothesis that the effects of acupuncture were closing to launch homeostatic regulation [9, 38].

5. Limitations

There are several limitations in this study. First, in a relatively small sample in our study, the results for group comparison were not corrected for multiple comparisons; therefore, they should only be considered an exploratory analysis. Second, some flaws exist in our protocol, for example, a lack of sham stimuli in rested wakeful condition. The remediation of acupuncture in sleep deprivation cannot be totally inferred. Third, block design permits the observation of an immediate acupuncture effect rather than its post effects which are more valuable clinically. The mechanism still need to be further evaluated.

6. Conclusion

Different activation patterns suggest an important role of acupuncture on SP6 in remediation of SD. SP6 elicits greater and anatomically different activations than the same stimuli, that is, the salience network. A unique interoceptive autonomic circuit may, partly, indicate the mechanism underlying acupuncture in restoring sleep deprivation.

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Why Acupuncture Works for Anxiety Relief

Why Acupuncture Works for Anxiety Relief | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |
It's thousands of years old, but acupuncture is just being recognized as an effective anxiety treatment. Learn what experts think and whether it might help you.


You might think acupuncture is for hipsters who don’t believe in Western medicine or for your aging parent with chronic back pain, but a growing body of research shows that acupuncture can help treat a condition that affects everyone from time to time: anxiety.

Managing severe anxiety can be tricky because it generally includes therapy, which might not provide results for months, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. What's more, it can require medication, which can have serious side effects, saysLadan Eshkevari, PhD, CRNA, LAc, a certified acupuncturist, a physiologist, and the assistant director of the Nurse Anesthesia Program at the School of Nursing & Health Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Yet when acupuncture for anxiety is effective, symptoms lessen after the first few visits, and practitioners like Eshkevari are confident it attacks the problem at its roots.

How Acupuncture for Anxiety Works

Ancient Chinese medicine describes an energy force called Qi that regulates the body’s overall health, according to University of Chicago Medicine. Like blood in the circulatory system, Qi moves throughout the body via pathways called meridians. When factors like injury, stress, poor nutrition, or a change in environment disrupt the flow of Qi, health issues follow, according to the University of Miami Health System. By inserting needles at specific points in the body, acupuncturists restore the balance of Qi and the body’s overall health, University of Chicago Medicine reports. 

This concept might seem outdated to some, but Daniel Hsu, DAOM (Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), LAc, a practitioner at New York AcuHealth Acupuncture in New York City, says Qi is just a metaphor for metabolic function, or the chemical reactions constantly taking place in the body.

Acupuncturists insert each needle half a millimeter away from a nerve, Dr. Hsu explains. Depending on where the needles go, acupuncture can cause the nervous system to produce painkilling chemicals, jump-start the body’s natural ability to heal itself, or stimulate the part of the brain that controls emotions, including anxiety. All of these results, Hsu adds, can help people feel more balanced and treat a variety of illnesses.

RELATED: Hidden Signs of Stress and Anxiety




The Mechanics of Acupuncture for Anxiety Management

Hsu says acupuncture has increased in popularity since the 1970s simply because it works, and now there’s growing research supporting its effectiveness for anxiety andother mental conditions.

For instance, in a study published online in October 2013 in the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, students who underwent a 20-minute acupuncture session were found to have less anxiety and better memory immediately afterward than those who didn't have acupuncture.

Why does it work? Eshkevari explains that external circumstances beyond your control can set off your anxiety and that acupuncture allows your body to take back control. 

“We’re constantly under stress and pressure to perform, which can bring on disease and other serious health issues,” Hsu says. “Acupuncture is great for maintenance. It helps a long life become a better-quality life.”

How does it work? Led by Eshkevari, researchers at Georgetown University used lab studies to demonstrate that acupuncture slows the body’s production of stress hormones. Their findings were published in the April 2013 issue of the Journal of Endocrinology. 

Few procedures work 100 percent of the time. That includes acupuncture, but it does have benefits that conventional treatments like psychotherapy and medication do not, Eshkevari says. She explains that side effects, such as bruising and dizziness, are minimal and uncommon, whereas some prescription drugs can have serious side effects and can lead to dependency. 


Unlike with counseling, people treated with acupuncture often see results after one session, and the results improve with continued treatment. Hsu says acupuncture is particularly helpful for people who want to limit or stop drug use — prescription or otherwise. Because it regulates the body’s chemical balance naturally, acupuncture can even prevent people from needing medication at all, he says. 

Getting Started With Acupuncture 

When it comes to trying acupuncture, you have nothing to lose, Hsu says. With a certified acupuncturist, the risks are almost nonexistent and are far outweighed by the potential benefits. The majority of Eshkevari’s patients have told her they sleep betterand have a stronger sense of overall well-being after just a few sessions. 

If you're already receiving treatment for anxiety, Eshkevari suggests adding acupuncture to your current regimen. If you decide it works for you, you can work with your doctor to wean off anxiety medication. First, though, contact your insurance provider to find out whether it covers any acupuncturists in your area. Then talk with a practitioner — ask questions and openly discuss a potential treatment plan.

Last Updated: 8/21/2014

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5 Reasons You Should Try Acupuncture

5 Reasons You Should Try Acupuncture | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |

Years ago I watched Kiiko Matsumoto treat a hemiplegic patient who two years prior was knocked on her head by an ocean wave and lost sensation in the left side of her body. As Kiiko buzzed around the patient placing needles and pressing points, the patient reported, teary-eyed, that she could feel both her arms and hands. From that day on, I’ve been a firm believer in acupuncture’s healing potential. Most patients try acupuncture as a last resort when their doctors have declared their discomfort unfixable or psychosomatic, or prescription drugs have caused collateral damage. Some give it a try when their insurance plans cover a certain number of visits. Others have found community acupuncture offers a way to make regular treatments affordable. If you still haven’t tried acupuncture and are curious whether it’s worth your time and money, here are five encouraging reasons to give it a chance: 1. It's personalized healthcare. No two acupuncture patients receive the same treatment for the same disease or discomfort. Acupuncturists treat patients, not diseases. They are trained to take in every detail of you, from the sound of your voice to the quality of your skin to the sparkle in your eyes. They care about your whole story, past and present. They see your body as a network of interdependent parts: muscle, bone, fascia, organs, blood and body fluids, as well as more subtle layers like meridians and qi. They see what is deficient and what is stuck, mentally as well as physically, and make adjustments like a traffic cop, facilitating the body’s own healing ability.  2. It’s nothing to be afraid of. Sure, you may feel the needles and their immediate effects, but you needn’t be anxious. If you're suffering aches and pains on a daily basis, that chronic pain far outweighs any momentary mini pinch of a hair-thin sterile acupuncture needle.  3. It has lovely side effects.
You may go to acupuncture to cure your neck and shoulder pain, and find that the pain diminishes. Meanwhile, yourstress level, sleep quality, digestion, and overall mood improve too. 4. It gets to the root.
Acupuncture treatments are deeply healing because they focus not only on the patient’s current condition, but investigate why their symptoms are manifesting and aim to treat the underlying root cause.  5. It works. Acupuncture has been around since before recorded history. The earliest written record comes from a few hundred years before the common era. If it didn’t work, it certainly wouldn’t have lasted thousands of years and spread through hundreds of Asian medical lineages.   Scientists try to understand how acupuncture works from a biomedical perspective. Some refer to its effects on fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds all our muscles and organs. Some point to acupuncture’s ability to stimulate the limbic system and autonomic nervous system.  Some scientists claim in their studies that acupuncture is sometimes as effective as “sham acupuncture.” While they attempt to fit a versatile and non-linear medicine into a formulaic model with double-blind studies, the clinical experience of everyday practitioners and patients agrees with thousands of years of history — acupuncture works! For an official list by the World Health Organization on what acupuncture treats, click here.

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Acupuncture for insomnia - The Cochrane Library - Cheuk - Wiley Online Library

Acupuncture for insomnia - The Cochrane Library - Cheuk - Wiley Online Library | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |

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Although conventional non-pharmacological and pharmacological treatments for insomnia are effective in many people, alternative therapies such as acupuncture are widely practised. However, it remains unclear whether current evidence is rigorous enough to support acupuncture for the treatment of insomnia.


To determine the efficacy and safety of acupuncture for insomnia.

Search methods

We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Dissertation Abstracts International, CINAHL, AMED, the Traditional Chinese Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System (TCMLARS), the World Health Organization (WHO) Trials Portal (ICTRP) and relevant specialised registers of the Cochrane Collaboration in October 2011. We screened reference lists of all eligible reports and contacted trial authors and experts in the field.

Selection criteria

Randomised controlled trials evaluating any form of acupuncture for insomnia. They compared acupuncture with/without additional treatment against placebo or sham or no treatment or same additional treatment. We excluded trials that compared different acupuncture methods or acupuncture against other treatments.

Data collection and analysis

Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed risk of bias. We used odds ratio (OR) and mean difference for binary and continuous outcomes respectively. We combined data in meta-analyses where appropriate.

Main results

Thirty-three trials were included. They recruited 2293 participants with insomnia, aged 15 to 98 years, some with medical conditions contributing to insomnia (stroke, end-stage renal disease, perimenopause, pregnancy, psychiatric diseases). They evaluated needle acupuncture, electroacupuncture, acupressure or magnetic acupressure.

Compared with no treatment (two studies, 280 participants) or sham/placebo (two studies, 112 participants), acupressure resulted in more people with improvement in sleep quality (compared to no treatment: OR 13.08, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.79 to 95.59; compared to sham/placebo: OR 6.62, 95% CI 1.78 to 24.55). However, when assuming that dropouts had a worse outcome in sensitivity analysis the beneficial effect of acupuncture was inconclusive. Compared with other treatment alone, acupuncture as an adjunct to other treatment might marginally increase the proportion of people with improved sleep quality (13 studies, 883 participants, OR 3.08, 95% CI 1.93 to 4.90). On subgroup analysis, only needle acupuncture but not electroacupuncture showed benefits. All trials had high risk of bias and were heterogeneous in the definition of insomnia, participant characteristics, acupoints and treatment regimen. The effect sizes were generally small with wide confidence intervals. Publication bias was likely present. Adverse effects were rarely reported and they were minor.

Authors' conclusions

Due to poor methodological quality, high levels of heterogeneity and publication bias, the current evidence is not sufficiently rigorous to support or refute acupuncture for treating insomnia. Larger high-quality clinical trials are required.

 Jump to…Plain language summaryAcupuncture for insomnia

Although conventional non-pharmacological and pharmacological treatments for insomnia are effective in many people, alternative therapies such as acupuncture are widely practised. This review was conducted to examine the efficacy and safety of acupuncture in treating insomnia. Thirty-three randomised controlled trials were eligible for inclusion in the review, involving 2293 participants. We considered all studies to have a high risk of bias. They were diverse in the types of participants, acupuncture treatments and sleep outcome measures used, which limited our ability to draw reliable conclusions. Currently there is a lack of high-quality clinical evidence to inform us about the efficacy and safety of acupuncture.

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Residential treatment modifications:... [Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2009] - PubMed - NCBI

Residential treatment modifications:... [Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2009] - PubMed - NCBI | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |


This article describes therapeutic community (TC) services modified to support methadone residents and their service utilization in a study of TC patients (N = 231) receiving versus not receiving methadone.


Service utilization data are reported from providers (i.e., methadone support group counselor, acupuncturist, and consulting psychiatrist) for 12 months after admission. Descriptive statistics are used to report methadone residents use of methadone support group and acupuncture services. Pearson chi-square tests are used to compare methadone and non-methadone participants use of psychiatrist services. Additionally, such tests were used to compare both groups DSM-IV diagnoses.


Ninety-seven percent of methadone patients attended at least one methadone support group; 52% used acupuncture services. Proportionally more non-methadone residents used psychiatric services (p < .05).


Services tailored to methadone residents were accessed by this group. However, while 32% of all participants met diagnostic criteria for a current psychiatric disorder, only 22% received onsite psychiatric care, which questions whether integrated care is being provided adequately for participants with co-occurring disorders.


PubMed comprises more than 23 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.

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Heal & Sleep Better With Acupuncture

Heal & Sleep Better With Acupuncture | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |
By Staff Blogger Those of us who have never tried acupuncture and have limited knowledge of what it is may get a little nervous when we hear someone suggesting it for healing. The images of needles all over someone's body floods our minds and make us apprehensive but if we can quiet those fearful
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Neural specificity of acupuncture stimulation at pericardium 6: Evidence from an FMRI study - Bai - 2009 - Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging - Wiley Online Library

Neural specificity of acupuncture stimulation at pericardium 6: Evidence from an FMRI study - Bai - 2009 - Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging - Wiley Online Library | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |

To investigate the neural specificity of pericardium PC6, with the same meridian acupoint PC7 and a treatment-irrelevant acupoint GB37 as separate controls.

Materials and Methods:

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the whole brain was performed in 36 healthy subjects receiving acupuncture at three acupoints, respectively: the study acupoint (PC6), and control acupoints (PC7 and GB37). A novel nonrepeated event-related (NRER) design paradigm was applied to separately detect neural activities related to different stages of acupuncture (needling manipulation and post-acupuncture rest epoch). Psychophysical responses (Deqi sensations) were also assessed.


Neuroimaging studies of PC6 presented extensive signal attenuations in the cerebrocerebellar and subcortical areas, whereas acupuncture at GB37 induced widespread signal potentiations. In addition, acupuncture at PC6, in comparison with stimulations at PC7 and GB37, selectively evoked neural responses of the insula, hypothalamus, and flocculonodular lobe of cerebellum (nodulus and uvula).


These findings may provide preliminary evidence for specific involvements of the cerebellar-hypothalamus and insula following acupuncture at PC6, which underlies the autonomic regulation of vestibular functions. The predominantly time-prolonged deactivations in these areas may also serve the clinical efficacy of PC6 in producing a sedative or tranquilizing effect in antiemetic treatment. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2010;31:71–77.

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Stress & Anxiety - Traditional Therapies - Patient QI

Stress & Anxiety - Traditional Therapies - Patient QI | Acupuncture for anxiety and depression |
Acupuncture, Moxibustion, Cupping, Electroacupuncture The most recent study Patient QI found was published in Nov 2013. The study compared conventional treatment with a combined treatment and an acupuncture treatment for anxiety and depression. Results showed that both the combined treatment and the acupuncture treatment gave patient benefit by reducing anxiety and depression in patients with […
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Acupuncture and Schizophrenia, a UK study in a Primary Care stting

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