Researchers in Italy have examined the usefulness of acupuncture for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) following the central Italian earthquake of August 2016. A total of 41 patients were given four treatments over consecutive days. Both psychological and physical symptoms were reported by 68% of patients.
At baseline, 23 patients reported severe or extremely severe pain. After the third treatment, this dropped to four patients. With regard to psychological symptoms, 32 patients rated these as severe or extremely severe at baseline. After the third treatment, this dropped to 7 patients.
The researchers say this was an observational study with the goal of evaluating acupuncture in an emergency context. The results suggest that acupuncture could be a useful tool for reducing psychological symptoms related to earthquakes, but further research is required.
(An Observational Study on Acupuncture for Earthquake-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: The Experience of the Lombard Association of Medical Acupuncturists/Acupuncture in the World, in Amatrice, Central Italy. Medical Acupuncture, on-line 15 April 2019.))
A team at Narayana Dental College & Hospital in India, have found that acupressure can be successfully used to reduce dental anxiety in children. A total of 375 children, aged 8 to 12, who were scheduled for scaling and/or restorative procedures, were randomly assigned to one of three groups: acupressure, sham acupressure or control. The acupressure points chosen are traditionally used for calming, whilst the sham points are not known to have any such effect.
Significant differences were observed between the three groups, in terms of subjective anxiety scores, objective behaviour ratings, and pulse rates. The acupressure group displayed the lowest anxiety score based on all measures.
(Effectiveness of Acupressure on Dental Anxiety in Children. Pediatric Dentistry, 15 May 2018.)
Lavender has often been used as a calming agent for anxiety, and to help with the onset of sleep. By studying mice, a team at Kagoshima University, Japan, has now confirmed the identity of the relevant component of lavender oil and its mechanism of action. The anxiolytic (ie anxiety-reducing) chemical is one of the terpene alcohols in lavender, called linalool. Moreover, the researchers established for the first time that linalool must be smelt in order to produce its calming effect, as opposed to being absorbed in the lungs or taken up by the bloodstream.
The team say their findings may lead to the clinical application of linalool odour for anxiety disorders and to alleviate preoperative stress.
(Linalool Odor-Induced Anxiolytic Effects in Mice. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 23 October 2018.)
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.)