There have been several studies looking into acupuncture and dementia. This is because there is an assumption that the treatment technique can help improve memory in persons with neurodegenerative illnesses.
Professionals perform acupuncture on a holistic perspective in a bid to defeat various exogenous factors. Reports confirm that acupuncture may help protect neurons from deterioration to stimulate axonal regrowth on neurodegenerative illnesses like dementia.
Check out more details on what acupuncture is and how it can help improve memory in persons with dementia.
What is Acupuncture?
We can describe acupuncture as an ancient Chinese healing method. It primarily treats various disorders by having expert insert needles into the skin. When the practitioner does things properly, acupuncture is very safe.
WHO (World Health Organization) recommends the use of this healing technique for 43 diseases. Experts base this theory on acupoints and meridians that play a crucial role in maintaining and regulating the “yin” and “yang” in the human body system.
This is all about Qi which is patterns of energy in the body that are important for good health. When a person’s Qi is interrupted, many believe that this can cause diseases.
Acupuncturists believe that they can fix this by inserting needles in specific locations on the skin to restore energy flow, hence treat the illness.
How Acupuncture Helps Improve Memory of Persons with Dementia?
For many people with dementia, acupuncture is not a foreign concept. One of the ways of using acupuncture is to treat some dementia symptoms like behavioral disturbances. New studies, however, claim that acupuncture can also help to enhance memory for persons with dementia.
Several studies have been conducted to explain the relationship between acupuncture and dementia such as:
Acupuncture Outperforms Use of Drugs
Multiple clinical trials reveal that acupuncture works better than drug therapy when it comes to treating vascular dementia. While there are different types of acupuncture several studies conclude that scalp acupuncture is the most beneficial for persons who have vascular dementia.
Researchers from Wuhan University of Science and Technology found out that acupuncture is more effective at alleviating dementia than conventional drug therapy.
Their study indicates that acupuncture is also a safe treatment option for vascular dementia.
It is important to note that dementia affects the flow of blood to the brain. Consequently depriving this organ of essential nutrients and oxygen. When this happens, it affects language skills, memory, personality, and emotions.
The researchers cite TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) theory as the basis of their study which involved three groups of people. One group was on drug therapy where they received 0.8 g tablets of piracetam for 30 days three times a day. This is a drug that helps to enhance cognition or memory.
It is also an anticonvulsant, neuroprotective, and improves neuroplasticity. The second group was on conventional acupuncture, and the third on scalp acupuncture.
This went on for 30 days where the acupuncture protocols were applied once a day for six days a week. The researchers said that using scalp acupuncture protocol achieved a 90% total effective rate.
Conventional acupuncture was slightly lower at 80% while drug therapy came in last at 60%. In the future, the researchers were interested in combining scalp acupuncture with the use of piracetam to determine if this would produce more effective results.
A similar study with 184 participants all with vascular dementia also showed that acupuncture is an effective treatment modality. It went on to conclude that scalp acupuncture works well to not only boost memory but daily living activities, social behavior and mental state as well.
In related MRI research touching on acupuncture and dementia, there was a conclusion that acupuncture can help improve hippocampal connectivity in persons with dementia.
The study involved the measuring of some regions that experience disrupted brain connectivity in people with dementia. After acupuncture sessions, the subjects of the study demonstrated significant improvements in the connectivity for lateral and frontal-temporal hippocampus regions.
Researchers in this study made use of fMRI technology to determine the effects of two acupuncture points in the brain i.e. L14 (Hegu) and LV3 (Taichong).
Acupuncture Weakens Mental Problems that Dementia Cause
When talking about acupuncture and dementia, worth mentioning is that the healing technique can improve memory by treating mental illnesses that are dementia led.
This is done through amelioration of outside symptoms like lack of sleep which makes memory loss more severe.
One of the studies that came up with this conclusion followed 19 participants who researchers observed in the control stage for one and a half months. From here, the participants went through 30-minute acupuncture sessions for six weeks.
At the end of these six weeks, the participants recorded improvements in both sleeping and resting times. Another study was performed on persons with dementia and depression. The study took place in 2000 at Wellesley College. This followed 11 human subjects who went through acupuncture sessions 2-3 times every week for three months.
The participants recorded improvements in anxiety and depression some of the symptoms that make memory loss worse. They also experienced more energy levels.
Dr. Nancy Emerson the lead researcher also added that acupuncture helps to relieve pain from other ailments that develop with age encouraging persons with dementia to try out this healing method.
As scientists continue to work on a cure for dementia, multiple studies on acupuncture and dementia show promising results on how the treatment technique can enhance memory in persons with dementia.
The studies out there, nonetheless, are not enough to include acupuncture on the list of dementia treatment options. They have, however, laid a foundation for more studies that may bring forth more conclusive evidence on whether acupuncture will be established as a treatment option for dementia.