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Slight memory disorders can be treated with acupuncture
Acupuncture is already used successfully in medicine against a wide variety of symptoms. A new study suggests that even cognitive impairments, such as those that occur in the early stages of dementia, can be better treated with the help of acupuncture.
If acupuncture is used in addition to medicinal treatment, significant improvements in memory can be observed, Chinese scientists from Wuhan University report in the specialist magazine "Acupuncture in Medicine" (published by the British Medical Journal; BMJ). The researchers evaluated several older studies to determine the possible effects of acupuncture on cognitive impairment in the early stages of dementia. However, the scientists also pointed out methodological weaknesses in the studies evaluated.
Early signs of dementia
Mild cognitive impairment is often an early sign of dementia, even if only five to ten percent of those affected actually develop dementia, the researchers from Wuhan University report. In recent years, interest in acupuncture as a potential treatment for cognitive impairment has increased significantly and various studies have addressed the topic. For their meta-analysis, the researchers now used five of these studies to assess the clinical effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for mild memory disorders. Overall, the data from 568 subjects with mild memory disorders were taken into account in the meta-analysis.
Acupuncture with a significant effect on memory
The analysis of the data showed that memory does benefit from acupuncture. In the memory tests carried out, the subjects who had only received acupuncture performed better than those from the medication group. An even clearer improvement in memory performance was noticeable when acupuncture was used to accompany drug therapy. The effect of acupuncture could therefore be used to treat mild cognitive impairments in the early stages of dementia.
Further investigation required
Although acupuncture appears to be effective as an alternative and as an additional treatment to medication for mild cognitive impairments, the researchers are cautioned. The poor methodological quality of the included studies made more rigorous investigations urgently necessary before a corresponding recommendation could be made. Dr. James Pickett, head of research at the British Alzheimer's Society, told the Daily Mail newspaper that the lack of strong and convincing evidence currently does not allow meaningful conclusions to be made, and on this basis does not allow acupuncture to respond to memory disorders or to prevent dementia be recommended. (fp)