Parkinson’s disease is a chronic and progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra. Existing pharmaceutical treatments offer alleviation of symptoms but cannot delay disease progression and are often associated with significant side effects.
Clinical studies have demonstrated that acupuncture may be beneficial for Parkinson’s disease treatment, particularly in terms of ameliorating Parkinson’s disease symptoms when combined with anti-Parkinson’s disease medication, reducing the required dose of medication and associated side effects.
During early stages of Parkinson’s disease, acupuncture may even be used to replace medication. It has also been found that acupuncture can protect dopaminergic neurons from degeneration via antioxidative stress, anti-inflammatory, and antiapoptotic pathways as well as modulating the neurotransmitter balance in the basal ganglia circuit. Here, we review current studies and reflect on the potential of acupuncture as a novel and effective treatment strategy for Parkinson’s disease.
We found that particularly during the early stages, acupuncture may reduce neurodegeneration of dopaminergic neurons and regulate the balance of the dopaminergic circuit, thus delaying the progression of the disease. The benefits of acupuncture will need to be further verified through basic and clinical studies.