Acupuncture Continuing Education

Acupuncture Reduces Stress, Improves Memory

A new study measures that acupuncture biochemically reduces memory loss due to chronic stress. Researchers applied acupuncture at acupuncture point P6 (Neiguan, Inner Pass). P6 is located approximately two cun* proximal to the center of the wrist crease on the anterior surface of the forearm. The researchers measured biochemical and behavioral changes in laboratory rats. It was found that acupuncture stimulation at P6 increased AchE (acetylcholinesterase) chemical reaction activity in the brain.

AchE is an enzyme that converts the neurotransmitter acetylcholine into choline and acetate and plays an important role in synaptic transmission. The study shows that rats exposed to chronic mild stress (CMS) had significantly lower AchE activity in the hippocampus of the brain. It was discovered that acupuncture at P6 increased chemical reactivity of AchE in the hippocampus compared with the control group.

The researchers also conducted a passive avoidance test (PAT) to compare the biochemical findings with behavioral examination. The acupuncture group performed better than the control group for the PAT. The researchers concluded that acupuncture at P6 improves memory, increases AchE reactivity in the hippocampus and restores learning and memory after biochemical and behavioral impairments due to chronic mild stress.

Traditionally, P6 is used to ‘calm the spirit’ and regulate the heart. It is also well known for its ability to alleviate stomach disorders and relieve nausea and vomiting. Other traditional functions include P6’s ability to unbind the chest, clear the heat and regulate the Qi (energy).

P6 is one of the eight confluent acupuncture points and regulates the Yin Linking (Yinwei Mai) channel. This acupuncture channel starts on the lower leg at acupuncture point K9 and ascends medially along the leg, intersects points Liv14, Sp13, Sp15, and Sp16 in the abdominal region; moves up to the chest, and runs medially to the sternum and terminates at CV23 and CV22 in the chest and throat. The Yin Linking vessel traverses the chest where the heart and lungs reside. P6 is located on the pericardium channel and is the confluent point of the Yin Linking channel thereby making P6 important point for the treatment of heart pain and is one of the primary acupuncture points used to induce analgesia for use during chest surgery.


*Cun is a measurement similar to an inch, however, it is based on an individual’s anatomical structure and varies slightly from person to person.

The effects of acupuncture (PC6) on chronic mild stress-induced memory loss. Hyunyoung Kima, Hyun-Jung Parkb, Hyun Soo Shimd, Seung-Moo Hanc, Dae-Hyun Hahmd, Hyejung Leed, Insop Shimd. Neuroscience Letters. Volume 488, Issue 3, 25 1-2011, p 225-228.