Alternative Treatment for Alzheimer's - Acupuncture's Potential

Are you seeking a natural or alternative protocol of treatment for Alzheimer's?

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is increasingly common in the elderly population. Accordingly, a variety of therapies have been studied within the past few years.

One of these therapies, acupuncture, has gained attention for its role in improving the damage done by Alzheimer’s. In two different studies, scientists have found that acupuncture can increase a patient’s verbal and motor skills, in addition to their observation of an overall increase in cognitive function.

Massachusetts Study

In the first study, done by Dr. Nancy Emerson Lombardo at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, 11 patients were studied - one with vascular dementia, and the rest with Alzheimer’s disease. The procedure consisted of treating patients with acupuncture twice a week for three months, for a total of at least 22 treatments.

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In order to do so, the body needs the support of some basic dietary and lifestyle good health habits, such as a full body detox and a proper understanding and application of nutrition. No matter how remote or unrelated a health condition may seem, these fundamental health steps will greatly magnify the effects and benefits of any of our health-promoting efforts, including the use of specific natural health remedies.

Before and after being treated, subjects were given a number of tests, including the Cornell Scale for Depression, the Speilberger State Anxiety Inventory, and the Mini-Mental Status Exam (MMSE) for cognitive function. The researchers deemed the changes in the depression and anxiety scores before and after the acupuncture treatment "statistically significant"; other tests also showed improvement in fluency and memory. These results suggest the usefulness of acupuncture as a treatment for Alzheimer's.

Although no control group was used, Lombardo noted that those conducting the tests noticed an improvement in the subjects’ thinking skills - she believes this may indicate a link between anxiety and depression, and cognitive ability.

Hong Kong Study

Dr. Kao’s study, performed at the University of Hong Kong, brought together eight patients diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Eight acupoints were used, each being needled for a total of 30 minutes. Patients were scored with the MMSE exam and the TCM Symptoms Checklist for Alzheimer’s - thus, their memory, orientation, attention, ability to name an object, follow verbal and written commands, and write a sentence spontaneously were measured.

Kao’s team concluded that acupuncture helped the scores on verbal orientation and motor coordination to "significantly improve". Again, acupuncture's potential as a treatment for Alzheimer's was revealed.

Acupuncture's Theory

The way the Western world treats diseases such as Alzheimer’s is quite different from the way they are treated in the Eastern world, where acupuncture, which is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), comes from. Acupuncture’s underlying theory says that the spirit (shen) resides within the heart and brain.

According to the theories of Oriental Medicine, the "shen" is the life force that is affected by the overall physical and mental health of a person; if it is damaged, both physical and mental functions of a person will suffer. Thus, according to this ideology, treatment for Alzheimer's should focus on awakening the spirit (shen), opening up the senses, and stimulating the brain.


Because the available conventional treatment for Alzheimer's don’t necessarily accomplish all that we’d like them to do, it is a disease which may prompt a greater need for ‘alternative’ therapies. Although the results of the acupuncture studies are not necessarily considered valid by physicians in the United States, it is possible that this type of healing does not yet translate in a manner that is compatible with modern medicine.

Nonetheless, exploration of any therapy is likely to result in some positive effects, and it is certainly worthwhile to explore the benefits that may be gained by incorporating acupuncture into a plan of treatment for Alzheimer's.

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