New research concludes that acupuncture may be an effective treatment modality for the improvement of symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease patients. Using fMRI imaging, researchers measured the specific effects of needling acupuncture point GB34 (Yanglingquan) on areas of the brain related to Parkinson’s Disease. The researchers discovered that acupuncture activated brain centers that suffer excess deactivation in Parkinson’s Disease patients. Parkinson’s Disease is a degenerative brain disorder. Parkinson’s patients have lower neural responses in brain regions that acupuncture can access and activate. As a result, the researchers conclude that acupuncture at GB34 may improve the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s.
Two groups were compared using functional MRI technology. Group 1 were healthy subjects and group 2 consisted of Parkinson’s patients. The researchers discovered that acupuncture increases neural responses in brain regions associated with Parkinson’s Disease: substantia nigra, caudate, thalamus, putamen. These brain regions are pathologically impaired in Parkinson’s Disease patients but are activated by stimulation of acupuncture point GB34.
The researchers initiated this study citing prior investigations concluding that acupuncture is beneficial to Parkinson’s Disease patients. The researchers note that there is a need for more randomized controlled trials on the subject and conclude that “this study shows that acupuncture may be helpful in the treatment of symptoms involving PD (Parkinson’s Disease).”
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Yeo, S., Lim, S., Choe, I.-H., Choi, Y.-G., Chung, K.-C., Jahng, G.-H. and Kim, S.-H. (2012), Acupuncture Stimulation on GB34 Activates Neural Responses Associated with Parkinson's Disease. CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, 18: 781–790. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-5949.2012.00363.x. Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Korea.