2 October 2019

Acupuncture For Cognitive Impairment

Acupuncture for cognitive impairment

Recent research concluded in China has shown promise for those with cognitive impairment, the precursor for neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.

Researchers compared a specific acupuncture technique, famed for its use in post-stroke rehabilitation, called Xing Nao Kai Qiao (Waking the Brain and Opening the Orifices) with citicoline a drug for easing cognitive disturbances associated with cognitive impairment.

The study compared 216 patients, randomly splitting them into a control (those receiving the drug) and study group (those receiving acupuncture). They were measured over a 3 month period acupuncture twice a week or 100mg of citicoline three times a day.

Results were measured Alzheimer’s disease Assessment Scale, cognitive subscale (ADAS-cog). Secondary outcomes included changes from baseline to six months in ADAS-cog, executive function measured by the Clock Drawing Test (CDT), and functional disability measured by the Ability of Daily Living (ADL) scale at three and six months.

At the start of the study both groups had similar ratings across the board. After three and six months the researchers reported a greater improvement from acupuncture for ADAS-cog and similar levels for CDT and ADL measures.

The authors concluded, ‘Compared with citicoline, acupuncture has comparable and even superior efficacy with improved cognitive and daily living performance as a complementary and alternative medicine treatment for VCIND.’

This is pretty early stages of research, much larger and more rigorous studies need to be done to prove efficacy. But it is an exciting start. Again, it is great to see acupuncture having beneficial effects shown in research on an ever widening set of conditions.


Xu GC, Zhang R. Clinical Study of Xingnao Kaiqiao Acupuncture in Treatment of Non- Dementia Vascular Cognitive Impairment [J]. Journal of Clinical Acupuncture and Moxibustion, 2019(08):8-12.

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