Parkinson's disease is a neurological condition which is believed to affect over 6 million people world wide. It is caused by neurological defects in the substantia nigra. Several studies have been done to explore whether or not acupuncture can benefit people with Parkinson's disease. Many of these studies have found some benefit, one acupuncture point that has been particularly effective in studies is GB34.
A study recently published in CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics, examined the effect needling GB34 has on the brain using fMRI to try and determine how it affects Parkinson's disease. Previous fMRI studies comparing control groups to people with Parkinson's disease have shown lower activity levels in the thalamus, putamen and other areas related to motor function. This study was designed to investigate the association between GB34 and Parkinson's be seeing how treatment at GB 34 affected the brain regions shown ti have low activity in people with Parkinson's disease.
24 participants were involved in the study, half healthy and half with Parkinson's. All were examined using fMRI before acupuncture and again afterward. Results indicated increased neural responses in brain regions impacted by Parkinson's disease after stimulation of acupuncture point GB34.
This study was very small, and the authors note that follow up studies will be needed to confirm their findings. However the results of this study suggest that acupuncture can have a direct effect on brain function with resultant benefits for people with Parkinson's disease.
The study was led by S. Yeo of the College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University.