What is acupuncture treatment for Parkinson's

Acupuncture relieves Parkinson's symptoms

At Parkinson's disease The brain's black matter produces too little of the neurotransmitter dopamine. This leads to the typical symptoms of illness such as tremors, balance disorders and slowed movements. L-dopa and decarboxylase inhibitors delay the disease but lead to complications over time. Korean researchers have analyzed studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture and came to the conclusion that complementary therapy improves the course of the disease [1].

The causes of Parkinson's

In Parkinson's disease, the dopamine-producing black matter cells degenerate (Noun nigra) of the brain. The important messenger substance is missing in the communication between nerve cells. As a result, motor sequences no longer function as usual: muscle stiffness, shaking and slowed movements occur.

Treatment of the Parkinson's disease

In the current therapy of the Parkinson's disease one remedies the dopamine deficiency by taking levodopa (L-Dopa). At the same time, the degradation of the neurotransmitter is restricted with decarboxylase inhibitors, which inhibit the responsible dopa decarboxylase. As a result, existing dopa remains effective longer [2].

Long-term complications of drug therapy

At first these drugs work excellently, but after a while the patient's condition worsens again [3]. This is due to the fact that the black substance continues to decline and thus an important store for the dopamine is missing. Intermediate storage and release as required is no longer possible, so that the dopamine has a relatively short and violent effect and is quickly broken down.

The receptors of the cells react unpredictably to this constantly changing supply of dopamine: sometimes they no longer react at all, sometimes dopamine leads to a reaction that is far too strong. This manifests itself in decompensations in the form of fluctuations in effectiveness (motor fluctuations) and excessive movements (dyskinesia).

Such complications occur in the normal course of the without dopa treatment Parkinson's disease Not. They are seen in half of the patients after five years of treatment with L-dopa. After ten years it is already 80% [4].

As a result, young Parkinson's patients often only start drug therapy when the disease begins to seriously affect their daily lives. With the exception of very old patients, attempts are made to start therapy as late as possible.

Acupuncture as a complementary treatment for Parkinson's

Acupuncture is mainly used in Asian countries, but increasingly also in the western industrialized nations for complementary therapy Parkinson's disease a. In particular, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Korean medicine use them to improve symptoms [5].

Several studies have reported that acupuncture improves symptoms, reduces drug doses, and reduces side effects. It also makes daily life easier, for example by improving sleep. It is also said to slow the progression of the disease [6].

Old studies on acupuncture in Parkinson's had partly contradicting results, recorded too few patients or poorly conceived [7]. Since then, many new investigations have been carried out which have not yet been considered in summary.

Korean scientists are summarizing studies on acupuncture

Korean scientists have taken this as an opportunity to take a closer look at these more recent studies in the form of a meta-analysis [1]. Meta-analysis means that studies that have already been carried out are evaluated from a different perspective.

Only 25 of 982 publications passed the strict admission criteria. These randomized controlled trials (Randomized controlled trials RTC) scientists carried out between 2000 and 2014 in China and Korea and recorded 1616 patients.

The results with and without acupuncture were compared after Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) scale, the Webster scale and according to the effectiveness. These allow the assessment of the motor and cognitive functions as well as other essential criteria of the Parkinson's disease.

The results of the meta-analysis

In summary, it turned out that acupuncture was able to relieve the symptoms of Parkinson's disease better than no treatment or conventional drug therapy. In addition, a combination of acupuncture and conventional treatment had a better effect than conventional treatment alone.

What is to be made of this meta-analysis?

The meta-analysis suggests that acupuncture as a complementary treatment method improves the symptoms of Parkinson's. However, the results should still be viewed with caution, as very different measuring scales and different acupuncture points were used in the various studies. Studies with numerous participants and uniform criteria would therefore be desirable for accurate scientific statements.

At the end of their publication, the scientists themselves describe that in another meta-analysis there are indications of an improvement in Parkinson's symptoms through herbal treatment according to traditional Chinese medicine [8]. Therefore, they expressly recommend further examinations with plant medicine plus acupuncture compared to conventional treatment of the Parkinson's disease.

Sources, links and further reading

Discussed publication:

  1. Lee SH, Lim S.
    Clinical effectiveness of acupuncture on Parkinson disease: A PRISMA-compliant systematic review and meta-analysis.
    Medicine (Baltimore). 2017 Jan; 96 (3): e5836. doi: 10.1097 / MD.0000000000005836. Review.

Guidelines for the treatment of Parkinson's disease

  1. German Society for Neurology (DGN): Idiopathic Parkinson's Syndrome - S3 GuidelinePDF long version >>; PDF abstract >>.

further reading

  1. Rao SS, Hofmann LA, Shakil A.
    Parkinson's disease: diagnosis and treatment.
    At the Fam Physician. 2006 Dec 15; 74 (12): 2046-54. Review.
  1. Schrag A, Quinn N.
    Dyskinesias and motor fluctuations in Parkinson's disease. A community-based study.
    Brain. 2000 Nov; 123 (Pt 11): 2297-305.
  1. Lee MS, Shin BC, Kong JC, Ernst E.
    Effectiveness of acupuncture for Parkinson's disease: a systematic review.
    Mov Disord. 2008 Aug 15; 23 (11): 1505-15. doi: 10.1002 / mds.21993. Review.
  1. Zeng BY, Zhao K.
    Effect of Acupuncture on the Motor and Nonmotor Symptoms in Parkinson's Disease - A Review of Clinical Studies.
    CNS Neurosci Ther. 2016 May; 22 (5): 333-41. doi: 10.1111 / cns.12507. Epub 2016 Feb 4th Review.
  1. Zhang G, Xiong N, Zhang Z, Liu L, Huang J, Yang J, Wu J, Lin Z, Wang T.
    Effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicine as an adjunct therapy for Parkinson's disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
    PLoS One. 2015 Mar 10; 10 (3): e0118498. doi: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0118498. eCollection 2015. Review.
  1. Wang Y1, Xie CL, Lu L, Fu DL, Zheng GQ.
    Chinese herbal medicine paratherapy for Parkinson's disease: a meta-analysis of 19 randomized controlled trials.
    Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012: 534861. Epub 2012 Sep 13.