Researchers from Zhejiang Chinese Medicine University conducted a study which was designed to test the efficacy of using acupuncture in the treatment of insomnia. More specifically, it was designed to test if a course of acupuncture was more effective than taking a pharmacological drug called Zipiclone.
Zipiclone works by suppressing the central nervous system. It enhances the ability to not only fall asleep but to also maintain sleep throughout the night. Despite being an effective treatment for insomnia, Zipiclone does have wanted side effects of potential intolerance or dependence. There have also been reported cases of addiction. In contrast, because acupuncture works by correcting underlying energetic imbalances in the body, is it by nature non-pharmacological. It therefore does not carry such risk factors.
A total of 112 subjects who suffered from insomnia were included in the study. They were randomly assigned to either receive acupuncture or the drug Zipiclone. The group who were prescribed the Zipiclone received 7.5 mg per day for 30 days. Those who received the acupuncture received acupuncture once a day for a block of 10 days. A total of three block were administered with a days break between each. During each treatment, the needles remained in situ for 30 minutes.
A summary of the results is as follows:
- The acupuncture treatment lead to an effective rate of 92.9%. This is more favourable than the effective rate of 67.9% for the Zipiclone.
- Ten subjects in the acupuncture group demonstrated a full recovery compared to three who received the medication.
- 18 of the Zipicone subjects showed no improvement. Whereas this only happened for four of the acupuncture subjects.
- Those who received the acupuncture also showed greater improvement on other measures such as daytime functioning, sleep efficacy and reduced sleep disturbances.
Shao, Y. (2017) “Clinical study on acupuncture for primary insomnia.” Journal of Acupuncture and Tuina Science. 15(6): 410-14.