Insomnia – brain imaging studies show how acupuncture helps

I’ve written about how brain imaging helps to understand how acupuncture works a couple of weeks ago.  Now I stumbled upon a study about acupuncture for insomnia and sleep deprivation. The study was conducted by JiaoTong university in China.

They only chose one acupuncture point on a leg, which could be used to treat insomnia. To test if acupuncture really made a difference, the researchers used another area on the same leg, only 2 centimetres away from the real acupoint. To further help understanding of the effect of acupuncture they scanned people who were not sleep deprived, but received the same treatment.

You can see the results on the image above. The first horizontal row is shows the brain of people students who received stimulation, when they weren’t sleep deprived. Second row, is where we can see significant changes to various areas of the brain; this is where real acupuncture was used on the same students after total sleep deprivation for one night.

The third row shows sham or fake treatment, where they used exactly same needle, but on an area away from an acupuncture point.

The researchers conclude, that the difference in the brain activation suggests the importance of SP6 in treatment of sleep deprivation. Thanks, to the technology of FMRI we’re a little closer to understanding the mechanism of acupuncture for insomnia and sleep deprivation.

Reference: Differential activation patterns of fMRI in sleep-deprived brain: restoring effects of acupuncture

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