Parkinson’s disease is a chronic disease, affecting part of the brain known as substantia nigra. The condition is characterized by the destruction of the nervous cells that produce dopamine within that region. As the causes for Parkinson’s disease are not yet clarified, there is no cure for this condition. While searching for a solution, scientists reported acupuncture can help alleviate symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, such as tremor, walking, speaking and writing difficulties, anxiety and sleep.
Several conclusions, based on the trials with PD patients, were made:
- Acupuncture relieves clinical signs and symptoms seen in Parkinson’s disease, especially the tremor; other symptoms such as walk, speech and emotional impairment were also influenced.
- Imaging techniques, used to visualize different regions of the brain, show that scalp electro-acupuncture limits the loss of nervous cells
- Acupuncture also increases the levels of anti-oxidants. The lack or decreased function of the body’s anti-oxidant systems is considered as one of the causes for Parkinson’s disease
Experiments based on animal models of the disease showed that:
- Treatment with acupuncture increases the levels of dopamine as well as the number of receptors necessary for its proper functioning
- Acupuncture prevents the damage of the dopamine-producing neurons, prolongs their life and stimulates the repair of the already damaged neural cells
- The number of stem cells transformed into new nervous cells increases in patients treated with special acupuncture techniques
- Stimulation of acupuncture points, situated on the head is more effective than the stimulation of body acupuncture points
As a conclusion acupuncture has been proved to have neuroprotective effect for patients with Parkinson’s disease through several clinical studies conducted on both humans and animal models. The regular acupuncture therapy may bring benefits whether used alone or in addition to the main treatment of the condition.
- Acupuncture in the Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease Yan Jiang, MD, PhD, Kenneth K Kwong, PhD,Jing Liu, MD [N A J Med Sci. 2009;2(1):32-34.]
- Effect and Potential Mechanism of Electroacupuncture Add-On Treatment in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease Fang Wang, Li Sun, Xiao-zhe Zhang, Jun Jia, Zhuo Liu, Xi-yan Huang, Shu-yang Yu, Li-jun Zuo, Chen-jie Cao, Xiao-min Wang, Wei Zhang Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, (2015), Article ID 692795, http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/692795