Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Can Acupuncture Replace Prescription Anti Depression Drugs?

I recently read an article while waiting at the doctors office entitled; "Can acupuncture replace prescription anti depression drugs?" For some people it seems the answer is yes.

In 2002 the World Health Organization released their findings on acupuncture and depression and stated that acupuncture for the treatment of depression was one of the most beneficial of treatments and was in fact more effective in some depressive patients than drugs. Several studies were cited.

The drugs I am speaking of are drugs that carry names like Xanax, Alprazolam, Valium.  They are known as Benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are medications which are sedatives and muscle relaxants and as such are often used as anti-anxiety drugs.

Another group of anti anxiety drugs with names like bastioned, isoprene and gepirone. These drugs are known as Azapirones.  They work on serotonergic neurotransmission and are not know to be addictive. Some of the known side effects are rare but may include confusion, headaches, nervousness, vertigo, increased depression, heart palpitations, dry mouth, and joint and muscle pains.

We all know that drugs have side affects which in some cases are worse than the problem the drugs ares suppose to help which makes acupuncture an inviting alternative. But will it work?


Sometime in 1998 the National Institutes of Health conducted a 16 week study in relation to Acupuncture for the Treatment of Depression. The study which was supported by the NIH's office of Alternative Medicine was conducted at the University of Arizona under the direction of John Allen PhD, and with the co-operation of Acupuncturist Rosa Schyner.

The test was performed using two treatment procedures, one using targeted and specific acupuncture points used in Acupuncture for the Treatment of Depression and a series of unrelated dummy points with no known purpose.

This study group was split in three groups with only one receiving the Anti-Depression Acupuncture Treatment, the second group was given the mock treatment and a final third group received no treatment and put on a waiting list.


The results were published in the September 1998 issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the American Psychological Society, as "Efficacy of Acupuncture In The Treatment of Major Depression in Women".

As a direct result of the Anti-Depression Acupuncture Treatment the first group experienced a 43 percent reduction in their symptoms. When compared to the small 22 percent reduction experienced by the dummy group-- this percentage can be attributed to a natural placebo effect, this is an excellent indication of the benefits of Acupuncture for the Treatment of Depression. After treatment more than half no longer met the criteria for clinical depression.

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