Excellent Results for Alzheimer’s Disease with Acupuncture

Excellent Results for Alzheimer’s Disease with Acupuncture

            Acupuncture works for the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease, and has been essential in melding Eastern and Western medicine to combat the terrible disease. Alzheimer’s Disease has become quite an epidemic worldwide with 55 million people living with both Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia with no definitive cure. Unfortunately, it is not only a condition that affects daily life for those affected, but it is also a disease that is fatal. There have been continuous excellent results with acupuncture for Alzheimer’s disease, developing more research in favor of it every year.

Alzheimer’s Disease Facts

            Alzheimer’s disease, in its simplest explanation, is a deteriorating brain disease, and the most common form of dementia. It affects a person’s thinking, behavior, and memory with symptoms growing more severe over time interfering with daily life. A common early symptom of Alzheimer’s Disease to look out for in loved ones is the difficulty to remember newly learning information. While it is normal for the brain to change as we age, Alzheimer’s Disease pertains to serious memory loss and confusion both signs that the brain cells are beginning to fail.

Stages of Alzheimer’s:

  • Mild (early stage) – the patient may be functioning on their own still driving and being social. However, the person may feel like they are having lapses in memory or forgetting where everyday objects are located or familiar words. The symptoms are not as blatant at this stage, but those close to the patient will notice.
    • Common symptoms – losing a valuable item, increased problems organizing or planning, thinking of the right name or word, difficulty performing tasks at work or in a social setting, forgetting information that was just read, and forgetting names after being introduced to new people.
  • Moderate (middle stage) – this is usually the longest stage for the patient. Along with this progression of the disease, the patient will require more care being that the symptoms of dementia, although they vary from person to person, become much more noticeable. There is more damage to the nerve cells in the brain making it difficult for the patient to perform daily tasks without assistance.
    • Common symptoms – forgetting personal events or history, withdrawn especially in mentally or socially stimulating situations, being confused about what day it is or where they are, trouble controlling the bowels or bladder, assistance in choosing appropriate clothing for the season or occasion, changes in sleep patterns like sleeping during the day and awake at night, tendency to wander or get lost, personality or behavioral changes and being unable to remember basic information about themselves like their phone number or address or what high school they attended.
  • Severe (late stage) – patients lose the ability to take care of themselves at all or respond to their environment, control movement, and hold a conversation. Communicating can still happen with words or phrases, but it is difficult at this stage as cognitive skills are diminishing. Since these cognitive skills, as well as memory, it can cause noticeable personality changes which will require additional care.
    • Common symptoms – may need around the clock care with daily life, have difficulty communicating, become more susceptible to infections, lose awareness of current experiences in addition to their surroundings, changes in physical capabilities such as sitting, walking, and swallowing.
On an average, a patient who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s live from 4 – 8 years after diagnosis, but can also live as along as 20 years after diagnosis depending on any other factors or symptoms that they are presenting with.

Acupuncture Research & Benefits for Alzheimer’s Disease

            Acupuncture for Alzheimer’s Disease compliments western medicine treatments to improve brain function by increasing circulation to the brain, improving oxygen flow, reducing cortisol, increasing helpful hormones like serotonin, dopamine, and acetylcholine which is a neurotransmitter specifically for memory. Classified in TCM as the buildup of phlegm, Alzheimer’s Disease blocks the flow of Qi and Blood causing the decrease in cooperation between the systems and correct communication. The brain and the Kidneys are closely related as the Kidneys nourish the brain, and the focus for acupuncture and TCM treatment of Alzheimer’s and various other types of dementia is to strengthen the Kidneys and clear phlegm from the body.

Acupuncture points for Alzheimer’s Disease:

Primary Points:
  • LI17

  • SI16

  • C1 Huatuo

  • C2 Huatuo

  • Tiandong

  • TH16

  • GB13
Secondary Points:
  • GV20

  • GV23

  • TH17

  • GB7

  • Yiming
In addition to being effective for Alzheimer’s Disease itself, acupuncture treatment is also helps with symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s Disease like anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Acupuncture for Alzheimer’s Disease Research:

  • Acupuncture for Patients with Mild to Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease, 2017:
    • The goal of this study was to validate the efficacy and safety of acupuncture treatment in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s Disease.
    • This study included 87 patients that had a 12-week treatment phase along with a 12-week follow-up time frame with patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s into either the acupuncture treatment group or the donepezil hydrochloride (western medicine treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease) group. Patients in the acupuncture group were provided acupuncture treatment 3 times a week, and patients in the donepezil hydrochloride group were given the medicine once a day.
    • Initial efficacy was determined by the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive as well as the Clinician’s Interview-Based Impression of Change-Plus. Follow up outcomes were determined by the 23-item Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study Activities of Daily Living Scales and the Neuropsychiatric Index.
    • The results of this study showed that both in the treatment and follow up phases, the acupuncture group the CIBIC-Plus values were lower than those in the donepezil hydrochloride group. Additionally, reports of adverse events were 0% in the acupuncture group and 9.09% in the donepezil hydrochloride group.
    • The conclusion from the data collected from these groups found acupuncture for Alzheimer’s Disease to be not only safe and well-tolerated, but effective in increasing cognitive function.

  • Acupuncture Plus Herbal Medicine for Alzheimer’s Disease, 2017:
    • The goal of this study was to explore the role that herbal medicine and acupuncture play together and their efficacy in the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease.
    • This meta-analysis included randomized controlled trials from 11 databases covering acupuncture with herbal medicine versus western medicine treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease.
    • The overall evidence from 12 trials and 11 articles showed acupuncture combined with herbal medicine to treat Alzheimer’s Disease was shown to be more effective than western medicine drugs.
    • The meta-analysis concluded that acupuncture along with herbal medicine may have the upper hand over western medicine drugs in treating Alzheimer’s Disease.

  • Neuroimaging-Based Scalp Acupuncture Locations for Dementia, 2020:
    • The goal of this study was to combine resting state functional connectivity, meta-analysis, and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in order to identify possible locations of scalp acupuncture to treat dementia.
    • 3 methods were utilized to identify possible scalp acupuncture locations for dementia; identifying dementia-associated surface cortical regions utilizing meta-analysis to identify the areas in the brain involved with dementia, resting state connectivity to identify surface regions linked to the hippocampus, and diffusion tensor imaging to identify regions that are anatomically connected to the hippocampus. Then, based on these findings, researchers proposed a neuroimaging-based scalp acupuncture prescription.
    • From this study, researchers created a new scalp acupuncture protocol for dementia based on data analysis of brain imaging.

  • Acupuncture and Related Therapies for the Cognitive Function of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2021:
    • The goal of this study was to utilize network meta-analysis to determine direct and indirect evidence of the efficacy of acupuncture to treat Alzheimer’s Disease.
    • This analysis included 36 eligible studies that included 2,712 patients, and involved 14 types of acupuncture-related therapies as well as comprehensive therapies.
    • The ranking results of all the types of therapy found that acupuncture combined with cognitive and memory training may be the best therapies to increase cognitive function in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s Disease for the highest overall benefits.
Alzheimer’s Disease kills more than breast cancer and prostate cancer combined killing 1 in 3 seniors, and those deaths have more than doubled from 2000 to 2019. More than 6.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, and by 2050, that number is expected to jump to close to 13 million. According to those statistics, the epidemic of Alzheimer’s Disease does not show signs of slowing, and since there is no cure, there needs to be further options for patients living with this disease to receive effective treatment while progressing through it. Alone or in combination with western medicine or with other therapies, acupuncture has shown that it is not only a helpful treatment, but at this point in medical history, an essential one in the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease and other types of dementia.

To learn more about Acupuncture & TCM for Alzheimer’s Disease, and earn 10 CEUs/PDAs, click here.