BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Sep 15;14(1):336. By Sujung Yeo

BACKGROUND: Acupuncture is increasingly used as an additional treatment for patients with Parkinson's disease (PD).

METHODS: In this functional magnetic resonance imaging study, brain activation in response to acupuncture in a group of 12 patients with PD was compared with a group of 12 healthy participants. Acupuncture was conducted on a specific acupoint, the right GB 34 (Yanglingquan), which is a frequently used acupoint for motor function treatment in the oriental medical field.

RESULTS: Acupuncture stimulation on this acupoint activates the prefrontal cortex, precentral gyrus, and putamen in patients with PD; areas that are known to be impaired in patients with PD. Compared with healthy participants, patients with PD showed significantly higher brain activity in the prefrontal cortex and precentral gyrus, especially visible in the left hemisphere.

CONCLUSIONS: The neuroimaging results of our study suggest that in future acupuncture research; the prefrontal cortex as well as the precentral gyrus should be treated for symptoms of Parkinson's disease and that GB 34 seems to be a suitable acupoint. Moreover, acupuncture evoked different brain activations in patients with Parkinson's disease than in healthy participants in our study, stressing the importance of conducting acupuncture studies on both healthy participants as well as patients within the same study, in order to detect acupuncture efficacy.