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Scalp Acupuncture.


Scalp acupuncture

In comparison to acupuncture, whose lineage can be traced back thousands of years, Chinese scalp acupuncture is a new micro-system developed in the 20th century.


Dr Shun-fa Jiao started his career as a neurosurgeon, and his work developed to clinically assess the effects of scalp acupuncture on stroke patients.  His work was published in 1971 and since then scalp acupuncture has been used to support conditions such as:

  • stroke

  • multiple sclerosis

  • Parkinson's disease

  • depression

  • autism

  • insomnia

  • migraine

  • epilepsy

  • Alzheimer's

In scalp acupuncture, the acupuncture needles are placed at specific areas along the scalp.  These may also be supported with body acupuncture points. To see scalp acupuncture in action you can watch this video here of my own teacher Dr Tianjun Wang.

As I talk about all these conditions below, scalp acupuncture is not a miracle cure.  But if you are interested to see if scalp acupuncture might help you, with your signs and symptoms, then please do send me a message.

Scalp acupuncture for stroke

Scalp acupuncture for stroke has countless studies.  

Signs and symptoms of stroke can depend on the area of the brain, that is affected, but we would expect to see:

  • Face dropping to one side

  • Inability to lift one or both arms

  • Speech may become slurred or the person may not be able to talk at all

If you suspect a stroke the immediate response should be to dial 999.

However, scalp acupuncture for strokes might be used once the patient is stabilised.

In a Cochrane review (considered the gold standard of research); acupuncture for stroke has shown

"Across trials using any control comparison, participants in the acupuncture group were reported to be less likely to be dead or dependent at the end of follow-up and to have improved neurological deficits, especially for motor function"

Scalp acupuncture for Parkinson's disease

Scalp acupuncture is not going to cure Parkinson's which happens when there is a loss of nerve cells in the substantial nigra.  Approximately 1 in 500 people will develop Parkinson's disease and typical signs and symptoms will be:

  • Tremors

  • Slow movement

  • Stiff and inflexible muscles

These symptoms occur due to the loss of dopamine.

But other signs and symptoms can be:

  • Depression

  • Loss of smell

  • Insomnia

  • Loss of balance

  • Memory problems

Whilst scalp acupuncture cannot cure Parkinson's, there are studies that show it can help with motor symptoms (tremors) and markedly improved non-motor symptoms (depression, insomnia, digestive problems).

"Acupuncture may be a promising treatment for patients with Parkinson's Disease, and it may be especially effective at improving motor function. This conclusion must be interpreted cautiously, given the generally low methodological quality and low quality of evidence of the included SRs/MAs. Additional studies with rigorous experimental designs and larger sample sizes are needed to verify these results."

Scalp acupuncture for headache and migraine

Treating migraine patients was the underlying reason for my additional training in scalp acupuncture.  I have written a blog post here about how acupuncture views headaches and migraines.  Migraine's can cause:

  • severe headaches

  • aura

  • nausea

  • increased light sensitivity

and they also affect quality of life with 1 in 7 people experiencing them regularly enough to hinder work, school and social life.

Again another Cochrane review (considered to be the gold standard) found that acupuncture for migraines has been shown to 

"The available evidence suggests that adding acupuncture to symptomatic treatment of attacks reduces the frequency of headaches. Contrary to the previous findings, the updated evidence also suggests that there is an effect over sham, but this effect is small. The available trials also suggest that acupuncture may be at least similarly effective as treatment with prophylactic drugs. Acupuncture can be considered a treatment option for patients willing to undergo this treatment. As for other migraine treatments, long‐term studies, more than one year in duration, are lacking."

They also found:

Acupuncture compared to painkillers for migraine found:

  • At three months, headache frequency halved in 57 of 100 people receiving acupuncture, compared with 46 of 100 people taking the drug.

  • After six months, headache frequency halved in 59 of 100 people receiving acupuncture, compared with 54 of 100 people taking the drug.

  • People receiving acupuncture reported side effects less often than people receiving drugs, and were less likely to drop out of the trial.

  • If people have six days with migraine per month on average before starting treatment, this would be reduced to five days in people receiving only usual care, to four days in those receiving fake acupuncture or a prophylactic drug, and to three and a half days in those receiving true acupuncture.

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