New research reveals that acupuncture prevents brain cell loss in memory areas of the brain. The new laboratory findings also show that acupuncture improves cognition. The researchers note that these findings suggest that acupuncture is a potential treatment for cognitive impairment disorders and Alzheimer’s disease.
The new laboratory findings show that acupuncture prevents neuron loss in the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for memory and spatial navigation. The hippocampus is one of the first regions of the brain that suffers damage in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Using the Morris water maze test, the middle-aged mice used in the study who received acupuncture showed significantly less cognitive deficits. The combination of improved maze test results combined with greater preservation of brain neurons prompted the researchers to suggest that acupuncture may help human subjects suffering from cognitive disorders. The researchers note, “These results suggest that reducing neuron loss in the hippocampus by acupuncture is a potential therapeutic approach for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and cognitive impairment diseases.” This study comes at a time when a recent human MRI imaging study demonstrates that needling acupuncture points Liv3 (Taichong) and LI4 (Hegu) successfully activate regions of the cerebrum responsible for memory and cognition in Alzheimer’s patients and those with mild cognitive impairments.
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Acupunct Med doi:10.1136/acupmed-2012-010180. Acupuncture improves cognitive deficits and increases neuron density of the hippocampus in middle-aged SAMP8 mice. Guomin Li, Xuezhu Zhang, Haiyan Cheng, Xuemei Shang, Hui Xie, Xin Zhang, Jianchun Yu, Jingxian Han.
Wang Z, Nie B, Li D, Zhao Z, Han Y, et al. (2012) Effect of Acupuncture in Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer Disease: A Functional MRI Study. PLoS ONE 7(8): e42730. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0042730