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Acupuncture Can Reduce Dementia Symptoms, Study Suggests

First Posted: Aug 08, 2016 06:57 AM EDT
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Acupuncture has been known to relieve stress and muscle pain. Now, researchers of a new study believe it may also be effective for mild cognitive impairment, a precursor for dementia, when used as an alternative or combined with other treatment. Min Deng, from the Department of Neurology at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in China, and Xu-Feng Wang, from the Department of General Surgery at Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, conducted the study.

Medical News Today wrote that mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a stage between the expected decrease in cognitive functioning of normal aging and the most severe decline of dementia. It has the chance to later increase the risk of progressing to dementia which is caused by Alzheimer's disease or other neurological conditions. Although not everyone with MCI experience a decline in the condition. There are those who get better. MCI may be detected if a person experiences a "slip" in memory or mental function.

According to Fox News, the study analysis focused on a few number of people. It is also believed to be the first study to observe effects on both Western and Chinese studies. The report also said that neurologists studied two types of research including one that made a comparison between acupuncture to nimopipine, a calcium blocker that treats a gene mutation associated with dementia, and another that calculated the effect of acupuncture when mixed with nimodipine.

Data from five different trials which involved 568 people were a perfect fit in the study. The study divided the number of participants into two groups, 288 patients were placed in the acupuncture group and 280 patients were assigned to the group who will receive a traditional medicine called nimodipine, a drug which is known to improve learning and reduce cognitive deficits in Alzheimer's disease. Three trials were performed to check the effectiveness of acupuncture so that experts could compare it to nimodipine's effect. Two other trials were also done to analyze the effect of acupuncture when combined with traditional treatment.

The age of participants' in the study ranged from 26 to 94 years old. Acupuncture treatment was given three to five times a week for 2 months in four different trials, while 3 months for the remaining trial. Results from the collective data revealed that participants who received acupuncture had better outcomes than those who received the traditional nimodipine treatment. They got better scores on two of the main tests, the mini-mental state exam and picture recognition, which is used to check AMCI and dementia, immortalnews.org reported.

It was also found that acupuncture with nimodipine significantly improved mini-mental state exam scores when compared with nimodipine alone. Meanwhile, three of the trials were said to have adverse effects, which involved fainting during treatment and slow bleeding (errhysis) at needle sites for acupuncture, and gut symptoms and mild headache for nimodipine. "In conclusion, the results of this meta-analysis suggest that acupuncture therapy has a significant positive effective on cognitive and memory function in patients with AMCI compared with nimodipine alone. The results also show that acupuncture is effective as an adjunctive treatment to nimodipine for AMCI," the authors said.

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