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Research: Anxiety, depression, stress and sleep

Insomnia (Acupuncture)

Acupuncture may be effective for insomnia

Acupuncture therapy, commonly used in clinical practice in Asian cultures, has the potential to produce a positive effect with patients experiencing insomnia. The purpose of this systematic review was to: 1) assess the trends across intervention studies using acupuncture for insomnia from 1975 to 2002; 2) examine dependent variables and 3) evaluate the effects of acupuncture therapy on insomnia in older people.

Data were collected from November 2001 to January 2003 from a wide range of electronic databases. Half the studies that met the researchers’ criteria had small samples (50 subjects or fewer), which were composed mainly of older women who had a variable duration of insomnia from three days to 34 years. The main methods used to assess outcomes were questionnaires. All the studies reported statistically significant positive results.

The results of this review suggest that acupuncture may be an effective intervention for the relief of insomnia. Further research, using a randomized clinical trial design, is necessary to determine the effectiveness of acupuncture. More work is also needed to promote the long-term therapeutic effects of acupuncture and to compare it with other therapies for insomnia.

Sok, S.R., et al. Effects of acupuncture therapy on insomnia. Journal of Advanced Nursing 44(4):375-84.

Acupuncture may help anxious insomniacs relax

The authors assessed the response to acupuncture of 18 anxious adult subjects who complained of insomnia in an open prepost clinical trial study. After five weeks acupuncture treatment they found a significant nocturnal increase in endogenous melatonin secretion and significant improvements in polysomnographic measures of sleep onset latency, arousal index, total sleep time and sleep efficiency. They also found significant reductions in state and trait anxiety scores. These objective findings are consistent with clinical reports of acupuncture's relaxant effects. Acupuncture treatment may be of value for some categories of anxious patients with insomnia.

Spence DW, et al. Acupuncture increases nocturnal melatonin secretion and reduces insomnia and anxiety: a preliminary report. The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 16(1):19-28.

Is acupuncture beneficial in depression? A meta-analysis of 8 randomized controlled trials

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders. Acupuncture is a popular complementary and alternative medicine intervention suggested in the treatment of depression, but its effectiveness is uncertain. This updated meta-analysis was conducted to more precisely assess the beneficial effect of acupuncture in depression therapy.

Although this meta-analysis might be discounted due to the low quality of individual trials, it supported that acupuncture was an effective treatment that could significantly reduce the severity of disease in the patients with depression. More full-scale randomized clinical trials with reliable designs are recommended to further warrant the effectiveness of acupuncture.

Journal of Affective Disorders, Available online 11 June 2008. Hao Wang, Hong Qi, Bai-song Wang, Yong-yao Cui, Liang Zhu, Zheng-xing Rong, Hong-zhuan Chen

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