Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture Reduces Depression and Insomnia

Acupuncture successfully relieves insomnia caused by depression. Researchers document two effective and contrasting approaches to acupuncture for the treatment of insomnia caused by depression. The research finds acupuncture points Lieque (LU7), Zhaohai (KI6) and UB15 (Xinshu) more effective than the Si Guan (i.e., Four Gates, Four Bars) combination for the treatment of depression related insomnia. Si Guan consists of bilaterally needled acupuncture points LI4 (Hegu) and LV3 (Taichong). Depression image is represented here.

Both sets of points were combined with DU20 (Baihui) and Yintang in protocolized acupuncture point prescriptions. Although each prescription was effective, the data documents the LU7, KI6, UB15 combination a superior compliment to DU20 and Yintang for optimal patient outcomes. The researchers acknowledge that another study of a larger sample size is necessary to confirm these results.

Acupuncture treatments were administered two times per week for six weeks. Needles were retained for 30 minutes during each acupuncture treatment session. Filiform needles of size 0.30mm X 25mm were used to elicit deqi at LU7 and KI6 in the treatment group and LI4 and LV3 in the control group. Once deqi was achieved, DU20 and Yintang were added without manual stimulation. For the treatment group, UB15 was added using a transverse intradermal needling approach and was retained for up to three days.

No adverse events were reported. Both groups showed a decrease in insomnia with the treatment group showing superior clinical outcomes. As a result, the researchers conclude that the LU7, KI6, UB15 combination is a better choice than the LI4, LV3 combination for the treatment of depression related insomnia when applying DU20 and Yintang. 

Acupuncture continuing education and research has produced a significant amount of documentation for the treatment of depression and its side-effects with acupuncture within the last several years. In related research, it was concluded that acupuncture at CV12 (Zhongwan) and Si Guan (i.e., LI4, LV3) significantly reduces depression. Moreover, this acupuncture point combination has a “similar therapeutic effect to oral administration of Fluoxetine Hydrochloride and it is a safe method for depression without adverse reactions.” Fluoxetine is known by brand names such as Prozac, Ladose, Fontex, Sarafem, etc…. Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin uptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of antidepressant. 

Yintang point is in this image.

The randomly controlled trial consisted of two groups of 60 patients each. The acupuncture group received the protocolized prescription of CV12, LV3 and LI4 as the primary points. Secondary points consisted of acupoints such as DU20 and Sishencong. Acupuncture needle techniques of reinforcing and reducing were applied. The biomedical group received oral Fluoxetine, 20mg per day. Both groups were treated for a total of 8 weeks.

The effective rate in the acupuncture group was 95.0% and 91.7% in the Fluoxetine group. No major adverse events were reported in the acupuncture group. The Fluoxetine group reported cases of nausea, anorexia and diarrhea. The researchers concluded that acupuncture is safe and effective for the treatment of depression and that it provides similar therapeutic benefits as Fluoxetine.

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Wen, Xiuyun, Qian Wu, Jingshu Du, and Wenbin Fu. "Effect of compatibility of Lie Que (LU7) and Zhao Hai (KI6) on insomnia caused by depression: a randomized controlled trial." Biomedical Engineering and Environmental Engineering 145 (2014): 227.

Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2009 Jul;29(7):521-4. [Observation on therapeutic effect of acupuncture at Zhongwan (CV 12) and Si-guan points combined with reinforcing-reducing manipulation of respiration for treatment of depression]. Xie YC1, Li YH.

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