Dementia happens when the brain’s nerve cells break down. Vascular dementia occurs when part of the brain doesn’t get enough blood. Many different diseases can cause dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and stroke.
Memory loss is a common symptom of dementia. People with dementia may not be able to think well enough to do normal activities, such as getting dressed or eating. They may lose their ability to solve problems or control their emotions. Their personalities may change. They may become agitated or see things that are not there.
There have been many clinical studies about the effectiveness of acupuncture on dementia.
In 2014, a study was conducted by Wang Z et al. to investigate the effect of acupuncture on Alzheimer disease patients by combining MRI and traditional acupuncture. It showed that acupuncture can enhance the connectivity of a region in the brain of Alzheimer disease patients. Another study about the efficacy of treating vascular dementia gait disorder with vertebra and scalp acupuncture demonstrated that acupuncture is more effective than oral medicine “Almitrine” for the treatment of vascular dementia. Also, this study came to a conclusion that acupuncture has antioxidant effects.
In 2015, a research study was published in the Journal of Hubei University of Chinese Medicine. Researchers at the Wuhan University of Science and Technology demonstrated that acupuncture using special acupuncture protocol for the treatment of vascular dementia has more benefits over drug therapy and conventional acupuncture. The effective rates of acupuncture and drug therapy are 90% and 60% respectively. Participants were divided into three groups. The first group took Piracetam, a drug used to enhance memory and awareness. The second group received the conventional acupuncture. The third group received special acupuncture protocol, consisting of body and scalp acupuncture points. The three regimens were prescribed on patients with dementia for a month.
How can acupuncture help improve awareness and memory for patients with dementia? A review was carried out by Feng et al., with 238 articles included. The researchers found out that acupuncture significantly improves the levels of some proteins that are responsible for the storage of long-term memory, learning abilities and brain cell growth.
- HealthCmi “Acupuncture Helps Dementia Patient Memory and Cognition” May 2016 Link
- Huang, Lin-na, An, Jun-ming, Su, Tong-sheng; Wang, Pu; Dong, Lan; Zhang, Ruo-ping; Ren, Yu-juan; Ren, Yuan-yuan. Therapeutic efficacy observation on scalp acupuncture for vascular dementia. Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science. 2012-02-01. Shanghai Research Institute of Acupuncture and Meridian Co-published with Springer-Verlag GmbH. 1672-3597. Volume: 10. Issue: 1. Doi: 10.1007/s11726-012-0567-z.
- Mao QJ. (2015). Clinical Observation of Xingnaokaiqiao Acupuncture Combined with Scalp Acupuncture in Treatment of Vascular Dementia. Journal of Hubei University of Chinese Medicine. 17(4).
- Feng, Shuwei, Yulan Ren, Shilin Fan, Minyu Wang, Tianxiao Sun, Fang Zeng, Ping Li, and Fanrong Liang. “Discovery of Acupoints and Combinations with Potential to Treat Vascular Dementia: A Data Mining Analysis.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 501 (2015): 310591.
- Gang, F. E. N. G. “Observation on efficacy of treating vascular dementia gait disorder with electro-acupuncture (EA) on Jiāj (EX-B2) along lumbar vertebra combined with scalp acupuncture.” World Journal of Acupuncture-Moxibustion 24, no. 2 (2014): 1-5.
- Wang, Zhiqun, Peipeng Liang, Zhilian Zhao, Ying Han, Haiqing Song, Jianyang Xu, Jie Lu, and Kuncheng Li. “Acupuncture Modulates Resting State Hippocampal Functional Connectivity in Alzheimer Disease.” PloS one 9, no. 3 (2014): e91160.