Acupuncture may help a wide range of conditions, from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, to chronic pain, to dry mouth in cancer patients, studies have shown. And it could even help people quit smoking!
Now, in a small new study first reported by Medical News Today, it seems it could also play a role in improving symptoms of Parkinson's disease patients because of its effect on particular regions of the brain.
Specifically, the study, published in the journal CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, shows that acupuncture boosts the responses of neurons in brain regions known to be impaired by Parkinson's disease.
"Although more randomized controlled trials on the topic will be needed, this study shows that acupuncture may be helpful in the treatment of symptoms involving PD," the researchers, from Kyung Hee University in Korea, said in the study.
The study included 12 people with Parkinson's disease, as well as 12 people without the condition. Researchers conducted fMRI brain scans on all of them at the start of the study, and then the study participants underwent acupuncture treatments. After the acupuncture, researchers conducted fMRI brain scans on them again.
Researchers found that post-acupuncture, the brain regions of the putamen, caudate, thalamus and substantia nigra all had increased neural activity. These brain regions are known to be affected by Parkinson's disease, they noted.
Want to try acupuncture but not sure what to expect? Here are some tips for first-timers: