Acupuncture for Parkinson's disease
| Acupuncture & Natural Medicine Dr. Peng in Bethesda, Maryland
301 340 8444
A middle age women with Parkinson’s disease had severe tremor. she has not been able to wash dishes
for long time. She could not even take shower by herself. Frequent tremor and muscle rigidity have
made her impossible to knit her beautiful hat-her way to make living. Despite of her use of anti-
Parkinson’s medication, her symptoms continues for years. She had struggled for everyday in her daily
life. Then sometime in this spring, she received acupuncture to treat her Parkinson’s disease, her life
had since changed-she washed her dishes, took shower by herself, and knitted hats a lot of faster. She
abandoned walker and walks by herself. She is so happy to see the treatment had changed her living
Pakinson’s disease (PD), characterized as tremor, muscle rigidity, slow movement, and postural
instability, is 2nd largest neurodegenerative disease. The root of the disease is the loss of dopamine
producing neurons in the brain. The disease often started after age of 50, the symptoms become
significant around age of 70s. Early onset of PD can occur at much younger age. Millions of people
around world have it. When PD gradually progressed, the tremor, body involuntary movement, muscle
rigidity would severely limit patient’s daily activity.
Medication has helped most of PD patients in reducing those symptoms. The drugs improving dopamine
level or mimic dopamine reduces muscle rigidity, slow movement (dyskinesia) and tremor. However,
drugs have limitation. Long time use of these drugs produce the tolerance, eventually becoming less
effective. Effect of the drugs could be limited too. To some, it could be sufficient, to others, it could only
help marginally. For severe PD case, patients could also add the deep brain stimulation into
Acupuncture as non-drug therapy has been used to treat Parkinson’s disease for many decades.
Reducing tremor and rigidity, along with improving the quality of the life has been the goal of the
treatment. In addition to common acupuncture, a number of studies have shown the effectiveness of
acupuncture. Unfortunately, there has not been a large-scale study to evaluate acupuncture on PD.
Acupuncture may provide following benefits for PD patients.
1. Reducing tremor. Tremor is the most marked sign of PD. For most of PD patients, even with
medication, the tremor is getting progressively worse with time. A defined method of acupuncture
intends to reduce tremor after a period of treatment. A 50% of tremor reduction could be an idea goal.
2. Reducing muscle rigidity. For some patients, it is the muscle rigidity, not the tremor, severely
impacting their daily life. For patients who did not satisfy the benefit of medication, acupuncture can be
useful. Needles placed locally produce muscle relaxant effect, helping reduce the muscle stiffness. In
addition, needles could also act on central nervous system to improve motor activity. Together,
acupuncture assists PD patients walk better or better use of the arm and hands.
3. Improving the mood and other PD associated symptoms. Acupuncture offers comprehensive
treatment to relieve other symptoms associated with PD. Among the PD related neuropsychiatric
problems, acupuncture may improve mood, anxiety and depression. In addition, it can also improve
insomnia, gastric dysmotility, constipation and urinary incontinence.
Acupuncture can also be a useful to treat early stage PD although it has been used in both early and
severe cases. When tremor is mild, acupuncture can have a significant impact on reducing or
eliminating tremor. It may potentially prevent progression of the PD and delay the use of anti-Parkinson’