Acupuncture Continuing Education

MRI Finds Acupuncture Relieves Internet Addiction

MRI imaging and clinical research confirms that acupuncture relieves internet addiction disorder. Neuroimaging demonstrates that acupuncture normalizes brain activity levels while alleviating compulsive internet use, anxiety, and depression for patients with internet addiction disorder. Internet addiction affects adults and children. Internet addiction disorder, often referred to as Problematic Internet Use (PIU), is not listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) but internet gaming disorder is listed.

Internet addition disorder is linked to brain pathology. Hou et al. measured significantly reduced dopamine transporter activity levels in the striatum for patients with internet addiction disorder. Additional research demonstrates that internet addiction is correlated with D2 dopamine autoreceptor regulatory imbalances and reductions of glucose metabolism in the frontal lobe, temporal lobe, and limbic system.

Using fMRI techniques, Zhang et al. demonstrated that electroacupuncture reduces internet addiction and anxiety while enhancing brain resting states. Electroacupuncture successfully increased ALFF (Amplitude of Low Frequency Fluctuations) in the calcarine sulcus, posterior cingulate, lingual gyrus, cuneus, and parahippocampal gyrus for internet addiction disorder patients. ALFF measurements are neuroimaging techniques that measure responses in the resting brain. Neuroimaging by Chen et al. demonstrates that electroacupuncture regulates cerebral gray matter densities towards a physical state that benefits brain function and reduces depression for patients with internet addiction disorders. 

Zhu et al. demonstrated that acupuncture relieves compulsive internet behaviors while simultaneously relieving anxiety. EEG-encephaloflutuographic technology readings (EEG-ET) demonstrate that acupuncture improves brain functioning for patients with internet addiction disorder. EEG-ET technology has also been used by other researchers, including Sun et al., to measure alpha competitive structures in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with or without learning disabilities. Brain regions.

Chen et al. applied acupuncture to the following primary acupoints:

  • LI4, Hegu
  • PC6, Neiguan
  • LV3, Taichong
  • SP6, Sanyinjiao
  • DU20, Baihui
  • Sishenchong (extra points)

Measurements taken 40 days after cessation of acupuncture treatments measured significant reductions in internet addiction symptoms and depression for patients with internet addiction disorder. Concomitant with the clinical results were improvements in cerebral gray matter densities. Chen et al. add that acupuncture point specificity is indicated by the study noting that the ability of individual acupuncture points to generate signals at specific brain areas is a repeatable and consistent phenomena. The findings of both Zhu et al. and Zang et al. confirm beneficial changes to brain responses with correlated reductions in internet addiction related anxiety in follow-up examinations of internet addiction patients having received acupuncture therapy.

​Ko CH, Liu GC, Yen JY, et al. Brain correlated of craving for online gaming under cue exposure in subjects with Internet gaming addiction and in remitted subjects. Addict Biol, 2013, 18: 559 - 569.

Zhang, L. M. (2012). Effects of Electroacupuncture on Anxiety and Static Brain Function of IAD Patients. University of Chengdu TCM.

Chen, X. X. (2012). Effects of Electroacupuncture on the Brain Functions of IAD Patients. University of Chengdu TCM.

Zhu, T. M., Li, H., Du, Y. P., et al. (2011). Effects of Electroacupuncture combined with Psychological Intervention on Internet Desire and EEG-Encephalofluctuogram in IAD Patients. China Acupuncture Journal. 395-399.

Sun, Li, Y. F. Wang, Hua He, and Jin Chen. "[Alpha competitive structure in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with/without learning disabilities]." Beijing da xue xue bao. Yi xue ban= Journal of Peking University. Health sciences 39, no. 5 (2007): 520-525.

He, Y., Liu, J. & Zhou, S. K. (2015). Neuroimaging Research Progress on Acupuncture in Patients with Internet Addiction. Chinese Computed Medical Imaging. 21(1).

Hou H, Jia S, Hu S, et al. Reduced striatal dopamine transporters in people with internet addiction disorder. J Biomed Biotechnol, 2012: 854524.