A systematic review undertaken by researchers in Portugal looking at acupuncture and anxiety, suggests there is good scientific evidence for the use of acupuncture to treat the disorder. Thirteen studies were selected and all reported a significant decrease in anxiety for the acupuncture treatment group relative to the control group. Acupuncture was also associated with fewer side effects compared with conventional treatment.
(Acupuncture and electroacupuncture for anxiety disorders: A systematic review of the clinical research. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, May 2018.)
A pilot study undertaken by Canadian researchers suggests that acupuncture may be useful for treating anxiety in children. A total of 20 children with anxiety, aged 8 to 16, were randomised to either receive acupuncture once a week for five weeks, or to go on a waiting list as control. Treatment was individually tailored and combined with cupping and/or ear seeds if appropriate.
After the five weeks, anxiety was significantly lower in the acupuncture group compared to the control group. Acupuncture was judged to be a safe and acceptable treatment for children and adolescents with anxiety.
(Pilot study of acupuncture to treat anxiety in children and adolescents. Journal of Paediatrics & Child Health, 6 April 2018.)
American researchers have found that a course of acupuncture can significantly and persistently reduce stress among university students and staff. They looked at 111 individuals with high self-reported stress levels, who worked or studied at a large urban university in the south-western United States. Participants were recruited via GPs, flyers and the university health department website. They were randomly allocated to receive either acupuncture or sham acupuncture once a week for 12 weeks. While both groups showed a substantial initial decrease in perceived stress scores, 3 months after treatment the true acupuncture group showed a significantly greater treatment effect (40% decrease on pre-treatment stress score) than the sham group (24% decrease).
(Effectiveness of Acupuncture Therapy on Stress in a Large Urban College Population. Journal of Acupuncture & Meridian Studies, June 2017.)
British researchers have found that acupuncture reduces anxiety in patients awaiting neurosurgery. After measurement of baseline anxiety scores, 128 patients were randomly allocated to receive either acupuncture or no intervention. After 30 minutes, median anxiety scores in the acupuncture group were significantly lower, with no change observed in the control group. There were no adverse events in either group.
(A randomised controlled trial examining the effect of acupuncture at the EX-HN3 (Yintang) point on pre-operative anxiety levels in neurosurgical patients. Anaesthesia, March 2017.)
A pilot study in London on men’s mental health has concluded that both acupuncture and counselling can help perceived stress and anxiety levels. Participants with depression at the start of the study, also showed statistically significant improvements.
A total of 102 men were referred to trial after their symptoms were identified during GP consultations at the Victoria Medical Practice. Patients were offered up to 12 counselling sessions and/or 6 acupuncture sessions. Acupuncture was given weekly according to an individualised traditional Chinese medical diagnosis. The researchers say their findings suggest that a service provided in this way, can engage men of widely diverging age, ethnicity and class, with positive outcomes for wellbeing, and cost savings to society.
(How do we improve men’s mental health via primary care? An evaluation of the Atlas Men’s Well-being Pilot Programme for stressed/distressed men. BMC Family Practice, online 2 February 2016.)