Richard G. Petty, MD

Acupuncture and Parkinson's Disease

Over the last 25 years I have used acupuncture to try and help a great many people with Parkinson’s disease. It has certainly helped a lot of the symptoms, but in my experience has not often done much to change the course of the illness. That being said, I have seen a few people who had remarkable improvements that were sustained for months and even years. The best results have usually come when we have used a combination of acupuncture, diet and homeopathy, in addition to regular medications.

So I was very interested to see a study in the journal Brain Research, even though the work used animals, and I’ve had a longstanding aversion to animal experiments.

There is a chemical called MPTP (1-methyl 4-phenyl 1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine) that damages and kills some types of dopaminergic neurons in the brain, so it can produce Parkinsonian symptoms in humans and in some animals.

Mice were injected with MPTP and then some of them received acupuncture every two days in two spots, one behind the knee and one on top of the foot. In humans, these are two of the points that are traditionally considered to be involved in muscle movement. Another group of mice received acupuncture in two spots on the hips that are not believed to be effective for acupuncture. A third group had no acupuncture at all.

By the end of seven days, the MPTP injections had decreased dopamine levels both in the mice that had not received acupuncture, and in the mice that received fake acupuncture, to about half the normal amount. But in the acupuncture-treated group, dopamine levels declined much less steeply, and nearly 80% of the dopamine remained.

The mechanism for such an effect remains unknown. The most likely mechanism is that it is reducing the inflammation in the brain often accompanies and worsens other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. So acupuncture might maintain dopamine levels by preventing this inflammation. The same team of researchers from South Korea has already reported that acupuncture also prevents loss of dopamine neurons in rats.

The clinical studies in humans have been less encouraging, and more closely reflect my clinical experience. The problem is that by the time most people get to see an acupuncturist, they have already lost huge numbers of dopamine neurons and it is difficult to do very much. If acupuncture is to be helpful, we would probably need to be able to identify someone with Parkinson’s disease extremely early, perhaps even before clinical signs have appeared, and so far we have no reliable way of doing that.

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

logo logo logo logo logo logo