Meta-Analysis: Acupuncture May Reverse Mild Cognitive Decline

Practiced for over 3,000 years, traditional Chinese acupuncture may have found a new calling. Findings from a meta-analysis suggest acupuncture may help reverse symptoms of amnesic mild cognitive impairment (AMCI)—a condition characterized by memory loss that can develop into Alzheimer’s disease. Published in the BMJ journal Acupuncture in Medicine, the meta-analysis examined five trials with a total of 568 participants who had AMCI. In three of the trials, researchers compared the effects of acupuncture to nimodipine (a medication commonly used to treat AMCI) at a dose of 30 mg, three times per day. In the two other trials, researchers compared the effects of acupuncture plus the same dosage of nimodipine to nimodipine alone. Treatment groups ranged in size from 26 to 94 participants and acupuncture was administered three to five times per week during the eight- to twelve-week trials. During all of the trials, the participants took several tests, including the mini-mental state examination (MMSE) and a picture recognition exam, based on which researchers looked for changes in the participants’ AMCI. They found that:

  • Compared to nimodipine, treatment with acupuncture was associated with significantly greater improvements in MMSE and picture recognition scores.
  • Adding acupuncture to nimodipine treatment improved its efficacy, resulting in greater improvements in MMSE scores.

While this meta-analysis suggests acupuncture could help people with AMCI, it’s not entirely conclusive due to the preliminary nature of the trials, with their small sizes and lack of blinding. Randomization techniques and risk of bias were also issues in some of the trials. However, this research does open the door to future clinical research into acupuncture’s role as an alternative or adjunct treatment for AMCI. If you’re interested in trying acupuncture, it’s important to speak with your healthcare practitioner first to determine if it’s right for you.

Source: Acupuncture in Medicine

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