Recent clinical research indicates that scalp acupuncture has a positive curative effect on patients suffering from stroke. The researchers document that several major approaches to scalp acupuncture for the treatment of stroke have co-evolved with advances in the biomedical understanding of the human brain. As a result, the field of scalp acupuncture has made tremendous progress in the treatment of stroke over the last two decades.
A stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is interrupted. Brain tissue is deprived of nutrients and oxygen thereby causing brain cells to die. This is often caused by a blood clot or the rupture of a blood vessel in the brain. Speech, movement, sensory perception and memory are often affected. Symptoms include difficulty with walking, speaking and seeing. Headaches, syncope, numbness, paralysis and loss of awareness are also common. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), stroke is categorized as an illness that involves sudden fainting, unconsciousness, numbness and paralysis. TCM theory ascribes the term internal wind to describe this category of illness. The semantics involve two main components. Internal refers to endogenous disorders and wind describes the abrupt onset.
The researchers note that scalp acupuncture is a technique which prevents and treats diseases by needling particular acupuncture lines, zones or points on the head. There are many schools of scalp acupuncture theory. The International Standard Scalp Acupuncture, Zhu’s Scalp Acupuncture, Jiao’s Scalp Acupuncture, Fang’s Scalp Acupuncture and Tang’s Scalp Acupuncture are prominent systems. Scalp acupuncture is used to treat a wide variety of diseases and is especially effective for the treatment of stroke.
The Zhu Scalp Acupuncture system was developed by Prof. Mingqing Zhu. His work began in China and he now teaches and practices in Santa Cruz, San Jose and San Francisco, California. His publications include A Handbook For Treatment Of Acute Syndromes By Using Acupuncture and Moxibustion and Zhu’s Scalp Acupuncture. He co-authored a more recent work entitled Color Atlas of Zhu’s Scalp Acupuncture, which is a more recent mapping of the Zhu Scalp Acupuncture zone system that includes many recent updates to the system. The Zhu system emphasizes the importance of the Chouqi and Jingqi needling techniques of sedation and tonification. Other approaches are also employed to needling. Zhou Jianwei, using the International Standard Scalp Acupuncture treatment areas, treated 207 hemiplegic patients in one investigation. The group receiving reinforcing and reducing manipulation after acupuncture needle insertion performed better than the group receiving fast twirling (150-300 times/min).
For ischemic stroke, the researchers note that the data indicates it is important to apply scalp acupuncture as soon as possible to achieve optimum clinical results. For hemorrhagic stroke, it is advisable to perform scalp acupuncture as soon as the bleeding is controlled. The ability to retain needles for several hours to several days is a major advantage of scalp acupuncture over common styles of body acupuncture. This helps to achieve long-lasting clinical results.
Researchers from Heilongjiang University of TCM note that superior clinical outcomes are achieved when scalp acupuncture is combined with other methods. Zhen Yongqiang treated 30 cases of stroke with scalp acupuncture achieving an overall effective rate of 76.67%, 69 cases with body acupuncture achieving an overall effective rate of 75.36% and 39 cases with a combination of body and scalp acupuncture achieving an overall effective rate of 87.18%. Zhuang Jie treated 78 cases with a combination of scalp acupuncture and physical rehabilitation achieving an overall effective rate of 97.4% compared with 77.8% for scalp acupuncture as a standalone procedure. Wang treated 80 cases using scalp acupuncture and the herbal formula Bu Yang Huang Wu Tang (Tonifying Yang Decoction for Recuperation) achieving an overall effective rate of 96.2%. Prof. Mingqing Zhu is known to combine physical rehabilitation procedures, herbal medicine and body style acupuncture with the Zhu Scalp Acupuncture system. Prof. Zhu often achieves exceptional results by applying needle stimulation while the patient simultaneously engages in physical therapy exercises.
Chen, et al., covered many other investigations in their meta-analysis. Positive clinical outcomes for the treatment of stroke were consistent across multiple scalp acupuncture studies. As result, they encourage acupuncture continuing education and research into the benefits of scalp acupuncture for the treatment of stroke.
Chen, Li and Zhongren Sun. “Research on Treating Stroke by Head Acupuncture Therapy.” Clinical Journal of Chinese Medicine 6.1 (2014).