Clinical trials demonstrate that acupuncture improves cognition and memory for dementia patients.
Controlled investigations reveal that acupuncture outperforms drug therapy for the treatment of vascular dementia. Acupuncture was found both safe and effective, however, specific acupuncture protocols were found superior to conventional treatments. Multiple studies indicate that the micro-acupuncture system termed scalp acupuncture is particularly beneficial to vascular dementia patients.
Acupuncture alleviates dementia more effectively than conventional drug therapy according to researchers at the Wuhan University of Science and Technology. Published in the Journal of Hubei University of Chinese Medicine, their research demonstrates that acupuncture is both safe and effective for the treatment of vascular dementia. Acupuncture achieved a 90% total effective rate when using the Xing Nao Kai Qiao acupuncture protocol. Conventional acupuncture achieved an 80% total effective rate and drug therapy achieved a 60% total effective rate.
In vascular dementia, impaired blood flow deprives oxygen and nutrients to the brain; mental deterioration affects cognition, memory, language skills, emotions, and personality. The researchers cite Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory as the basis for their acupuncture protocol development. The Huangdi Neijing (Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon) states that the governor meridian (Du Mai) is related to the brain and marrow in the Suwen section. Also, Jing Mai theory in the Lingshu section indicates that the bladder meridian (Foot Tai Yang) is closely related to the brain. Additional TCM theory indicates that the scope of vascular dementia involves deficient liver and kidney qi and blood, phlegm stagnation, and qi and blood stasis.
Three groups were compared. The drug therapy group received 0.8 g tablets of piracetam, a gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) derivative, three times per day for thirty days. Piracetam is a neurotransmitter derivative that is a central stimulant and a nootropic agent (a drug used to enhance memory or cognition). Piracetam is neuroprotective, anticonvulsant, and improves neuroplasticity.
The conventional acupuncture group was needled at the following acupoints:
- Baihui, DU20
- Fengchi, GB20
- Shuigou, DU26
- Quchi, LI11
- Zusanli, ST36
- Juegu, GB39
- Taixi, KD3
The Xing Nao Kai Qiao acupuncture treatment consisted of body and scalp acupuncture points. Body style acupoints included:
- Neiguan, PC6
- Renzhong (Shuigou), DU26
Scalp acupoints included the following:
- middle line of vertex at Qianding (DU21) towards Baihui
- middle line of forehead at Shenting (DU24)
- both sides of the lateral line 1 of vertex at Chengguang (BL6)
- emotional area (2 cm laterally to the anterior median line and 2 cm within the hairline)
All acupuncture protocols were applied to patients once per day, six days per week, for a total of thirty days. The results demonstrated that acupuncture outperformed drug therapy. An interesting look towards the future would be an additional study combining piracetam with acupuncture in an integrative protocol to determine if positive patient outcomes increase.
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