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Transcranial current stimulation

There are a number of new studies on transcranial direct current stimulation and on transcranial magnetic stimulation. The newly discovered benefits of these therapies include pain relief, treatment for major depression, cognitive enhancement (including speeding up learning, creativity enhancement, and improving mathematical abilities, etc.).

Are these new transcranial therapies really novel? The treatment seems to be strikingly similar to scalp electroacupuncture, which has been used safely and effectively for decades.

We have numerous studies supporting scalp acupuncture for treatment of conditions such as

Acupuncture is much cheaper compared to transcranial therapies

  • US$300 is a cost of a typical transcranial magnetic stimulation session
  • NZ$70 (US$57) cost of a typical acupuncture session in New Zealand

As brain mapping techniques are becoming more accessible and we’re getting a better understanding of the human brain. This opens opportunities to design new treatments for numerous other conditions with electro-acupuncture, transcranial current stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation.

The image: mapping of the White Matter fibers

Acupuncture interferes with the mechanism of stress

Acupuncture is great at reducing stress. Even the patients who are seeing me for treatment of other health issues with acupuncture such as infertility report reduced anxiety. One of the first things they often notice is that sleep improves and they experience reduced irritability. They feel more relaxed at work and at home.

Even though we had viable theories how and why acupuncture helps stress, we know very little about what exactly happens on the cellular level. Researchers at the Georgetown University Medical Center made a major contribution to understanding how acupuncture helps. They discovered that acupuncture interferes with the very mechanism of stress. It blocks the chronic, stress-induced elevations of the HPA axis hormones and the sympathetic NPY pathway. Read more

Acupuncture for Insomnia

The largest study on acupuncture and insomnia to date found acupuncture to be more effective than orthodox sleeping medications at improving your sleep and relieving insomnia. The researchers also found that combining acupuncture with medication was more beneficial than medication alone. Acupuncture plus herbs also improved sleep better than herbs alone.

This study (meta-analysis) included 46 randomized trials and 3811 patients. It was published The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

The bottom line:

The most common solution your doctor will offer for insomnia is sleeping pills. Unfortunately the sleeping pills are addictive and their effect diminishes with time. Furthermore, sleeping pills don’t give you quality sleep and have a sedative effect, which may affect your performance during the day as well as driving. Acupuncture offers a superior alternative to sleeping medications. Acupuncture does not have the side effects of the sleeping pills and it is more effective in treatment of insomnia.