Depression gets pinned with acupuncture treatment

Sep 17, 2010
Depression gets pinned with acupuncture treatment

Acupuncture produces significant changes in parts of the brain that regulate emotional states and is a biologically plausible treatment for depression and other neuropsychiatric disorders, UNSW researchers have shown for the first time.

The scientists, from UNSW's School of Psychiatry, used (fMRI) to map the changes in the prefrontal cortex and subcortical nuclei brought about through the stimulation of the body’s acupoints by laser acupuncture.

“This is the first MRI study to find that laser stimulation of a suite of acupoints on the body in healthy individuals produces changes in that may be relevant to treating conditions such as depression,” said study chief, Scientia Professor Perminder Sachdev, from UNSW’s School of Psychiatry.

“It’s a scientifically rigorous study in a controversial area. It is being followed up with a similar study in depressed individuals, and a clinical trial of laser acupuncture in depression.”

A paper outlining the findings appears this week in the journal PLoS Online.

In the study, 10 healthy subjects were stimulated with a fibreoptic infrared laser on four acupoints (LR14, CV14, LR8 and HT7) used for following the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. A control non-acupoint (sham point) was also stimulated in a random design.

The subjects were unaware of the relative significance of different acupoints. The use of low-level laser acupuncture, which does not produce a skin sensation, permitted the blinding of subjects to placebo stimulation, something difficult to achieve with needle acupuncture.

“The most consistently reported finding in antidepressant treatments is that they lead to a normalisation of activity in the , with additional changes in the limbic cortex and the frontal lobe,” said lead author and PhD candidate Dr. Im Quah-Smith.

However, while the MRI clearly demonstrated the effects of acupuncture in the brains of healthy people, it remained to be seen whether the results would be different in a sample of clinically depressed subjects, Dr. Quah-Smith said.

“We also cannot predict from these results whether any acupoint should be preferred over others for clinical use. Both these questions warrant further investigation,” she said.

Explore further: Culture influences incidence of depression

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Depression Causes Malfunctions in Brain's Pleasure Center

Aug 25, 2009

Clinically depressed individuals are less capable of finding pleasure in activities they previously enjoyed, a recent study has proven. Research featured in the August 26 issue of the NeuroReport shows reduced brain function ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Asyo
not rated yet Sep 20, 2010
Acupuncture has been described for depression, anxiety and schizophrenia with varying success. There are, however, questions about the impact of the placebo effect, as one trial on acupuncture and depression found similar results between real and sham acupuncture.
(See more: http://neurocyte....ession/)

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.