New research concludes that acupuncture benefits sleep. A controlled trial conducted on pigs measured sleep outcomes when the subjects received acupuncture at acupoints GV20 and Dafengmen (an acupoint anatomically similar to human GV20, Baihui). Results were measured using an actigraph (Octagonal Basic Motionlogger) and by measuring catecholamine counts in the urine after the application of acupuncture. Pigs receiving acupuncture at Dafengmen for 20 minutes at a depth of 10-20mm showed significant values on the actigraph and urine analysis showed significant changes in the catecholamine count.
The researchers note that the traditional location of GV20 on pigs does not correspond anatomically to human GV20 and therefore Dafengmen was studied along with GV20. Dafengmen is located using the midline between the ears technique and therefore corresponds to human GV20. Sleep improvements were achieved with Dafengmen. The pigs were kept in a light, humidity and temperature controlled environment and acupuncture was applied for 20 minutes (10-20mm depth) using Seirin J type needles (0.2 X 50mm).
The actigraph device measures whole body movements and showed significant improvements in sleep in the subjects; total sleep time and sleep efficiency improved in the acupuncture subjects. Urinary analysis used solid phase extraction to determine levels of norepinephrine and epinephrine following application of acupuncture. Norepinephrine lowered significantly in the subjects receiving acupuncture. Epinephrine did not show significant changes from the application of acupoint Dafengmen.
The researchers note, “Beneficial effects occur when acupuncture is performed at a specific point, indicating that the effects may be induced by transferring the stimulus to the central nervous system….” They postulate that the mechanism by which acupuncture transfers its active effects may involve the trigeminal and greater occipital nerves.
Ka-ichiro Takeishi, Masahisa Horiuchi, Hiroaki Kawaguchi, et al., “Acupuncture Improves Sleep Conditions of Minipigs Representing Diurnal Animals through an Anatomically Similar Point to the Acupoint (GV20) Effective for Humans,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012, Article ID 472982, 6 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/472982