Most studies on Parkinson’s disease focus exclusively on motor symptoms.
But anxiety is another common and potentially destructive non-motor symptom of the disease.
This fact prompted the researchers behind a new study in JAMA Network Open to put an old Chinese method to the test.
You see, anxiety is a massive problem for approximately 31% of Parkinson’s patients.
Beyond just feeling worried, sufferers also report that they have difficulty concentrating, that their muscles are tense, and that their tremors are worse.
Previous studies show that Parkinson’s patients with anxiety report greater levels of disability, higher levels of gait freezing, and lower levels of well-being than those without anxiety.
As a result, anxiety constitutes a major symptom of Parkinson’s disease that must be treated for the sake of patients’ quality of life.
Since the only established treatment options are drugs, which have side effects, and cognitive behavioral therapy, which is expensive and often inaccessible, the researchers behind the new study decided to investigate acupuncture.
They recruited 70 Parkinson’s patients from the Parkinson clinic at the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. They divided them into two groups that received either real acupuncture or sham acupuncture.
Both groups received real or sham acupuncture for 30 minutes per day three times per week for a period of eight weeks.
They tested their subjects on the Hamilton Anxiety Scale prior to the start of the intervention, at the end of the intervention, and eight weeks after the intervention ended.
They also drew blood from their subjects before and after the intervention to assess their cortisol levels, a stress hormone.
This is what they found:
1. Immediately following the intervention, there was a significant improvement in both groups’ anxiety scores but almost no difference between them.
2. Eight weeks after the intervention ended, the real treatment group showed a 7.03-point larger reduction in their anxiety scores compared with the sham treatment group.
3. Immediately following the intervention, only the real treatment group exhibited a reduction in ACTH, the hormone that stimulates the body to produce cortisol.
So, what does this all mean?
1. Most importantly, acupuncture can reduce anxiety in Parkinson’s patients.
2. The placebo effect of sham acupuncture is very strong in China, where people believe strongly in the effectiveness of acupuncture. This is why there was a notable reduction in anxiety among those in the sham treatment group immediately following the intervention.
3. The reduction in ACTH suggests that there would have been a corresponding reduction in cortisol, but the study period was too short to confirm this.
Overall, acupuncture is a promising treatment choice for those who suffer from both the motor and psychological symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
But if you want to put a stop to your Parkinson’s, you’ll be thrilled to learn that thousands of readers are now living without any Parkinson’s symptoms after applying just a few simple lifestyle changes, which are explained here…