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Body acupuncture found to improve post-stroke depression symptoms

In this study, researchers from Second Military Medical University in China evaluated the effectiveness and possible side effects of body acupuncture, especially when used as treatment for post-stroke depression. The results of their study were published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

  • Body acupuncture is an age-old therapy used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
  • To determine the effects of body acupuncture, the researchers recruited patients from the inpatient wards of the neurology and rehabilitation departments and conducted a single-blind double-simulated randomized controlled trial.
  • They enrolled 68 patients who met the criteria and randomly assigned them into two groups: the intervention group and the control group.
  • The intervention group received body acupuncture therapy (Shiguo GV, Neiguan PC6, and Zusanli ST 36) and an oral placebo while the control group received fluoxetine and minimal nontraditional acupuncture (minimally active penetration). Both groups received treatment daily but separately for six weeks.
  • The researchers used the 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD-17) to measure the outcomes, and the Side Effect Rating Scale (SERS) of Asberg plus a self-designed needling adverse events scale to measure the side effects. They statitically evaluated the clinical effects for both groups before treatment, on weeks 2 and 6 of treatment, and after three months.
  • The researchers reported that the curative effects of both interventions were similar (week 6 and on the third month).
  • The intervention group had an earlier onset time at week 2 and also reported fewer side effects than the control group.

Based on these results, the researchers concluded that body acupuncture is effective in reducing the depression symptoms of stroke patients and causes fewer side effects than modern drugs. This healing art, therefore, should be considered as an option for the treatment of the neuropsychiatric sequelae of stroke.

Journal Reference:

Qian X, Zhou X, You Y, Shu S, Fang F, Huang S, Zhou S. TRADITIONAL CHINESE ACUPUNCTURE FOR POSTSTROKE DEPRESSION: A SINGLE-BLIND DOUBLE-SIMULATED RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 01 December 2015;21(12):748–753. DOI: 10.1089/acm.2015.0084

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