Acupuncture Continuing Education

Tongue Acupuncture for Depression Effective

Tongue acupuncture is effective for the treatment of depression. Tongue acupuncture points shown here are effective for treating depression and anxiety. Tongue PointsResearchers measured the synergistic effects of tongue acupuncture combined with traditional body style acupuncture. They concluded that tongue acupuncture is an effective application modality for the treatment of depression and demonstrated significantly reduced anxiety levels and improved heart rate scores. Electrocardiographic (ECG) biosignal recordings also confirmed improvements in HRV, heart rate variability.

Tongue acupuncture is a rare form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Recent research by Sun J.G. et al. has identified 40 acupuncture points on the tongue that directly correspond to internal organs and body parts. Wong V.C. et al. cites numerous studies demonstrating that both tongue acupuncture and body style acupuncture improve central and peripheral vision in pediatric patients. Research by Li et al. concludes that tongue acupuncture has a significant therapeutic effect for stroke patients. This latest research finds tongue acupuncture effective in enhancing the beneficial effects of body style acupuncture for the treatment of depression. 

Patients received a total of 6 acupuncture treatments in this randomized trial. Body style acupuncture points used in the study were: ST36 (Zusanli), SP6 (Sanyinjiao), PC6 (Neiguan), GV24 (Shenting), Yintang (Ex0HN3), DU20 (Baihui). Sterile, single-use needles were 0.30 X 25mm inserted perpendicularly. Clockwise and counterclockwise rotation techniques were applied for a total of 15 seconds at a rate of 6 rotations per second. A total of 90 rotations were administered per stimulatory period for each needle. Clinical application of tongue points. Tongue Point Application

Tongue acupuncture points used in the study were Liver, Heart and Brain. Needle insertion used the immediate removal in-out technique obliquely to a depth of 0.5 - 1 cun. Common to tongue acupuncture protocols, acupuncture needles are not retained but are removed immediately.

The data demonstrated reductions in depression for body style only acupuncture and the combined tongue style with body style acupuncture. The combination of tongue acupuncture with body style acupuncture demonstrated significant clinical improvement over body style only. In related recent research, Lin et al. note that “a number of Meta analysis and system evaluations point out that acupuncture treatment has more advantages than drugs in the treatment of anxiety disorders….”


Shi, Xian, M. M. Huan Wang, Lu Wang, M. D. LAc, M. M. Zengkai Zhao, Daniela Litscher, M. M. Jingqiao Tao, Ingrid Gaischek, and Zemin Sheng. "Can tongue acupuncture enhance body acupuncture? First results from heart rate variability and clinical scores in patients with depression."

Sun JG, Sun XR. Tongue acupuncture. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu 2010;30(4):347-8.

Wong VC, Sun JG, Yeung DW. Pilot study of efficacy of tongue and body acupuncture in children with visual impairment. J Child Neurol 2006;21(6):463-73.

Li Q, Wang ZH, Ye J, Zhu XY, Guan ZH. Clinical observation on tongue acupuncture for treatment of stroke. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu 2005;25(11):820-2.

Observation on the mechanism of acupuncture treatment for generalized anxiety disorder using Lieque (LU7), Zhaohai (KI6) as the main acupoints. Lin, Chuhua; Zhao, Xiaoyan; Liu, Xing; Fu, Wenbin. Bioinformatics and Biomedicine (BIBM), 2013 IEEE International Conference on. 18-21, 12-2-13.

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