It’s hoped that laser acupuncture, as a less invasive form of the therapy, will prove more popular in the West than the traditional Chinese use of needles.
To test the effectiveness of laser acupuncture, Australian researchers from the University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney enlisted the help of 47 men and women aged between 18 and 50, all with a history of depression.
The participants were divided into two groups, one of which was given laser acupuncture twice a week for a month, then once a week for another month.
The other group was given ‘dummy’ laser acupuncture, which involved the practitioner shining a normal light on the participants’ skin.
Using the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, a recognised depression register, the researchers could gauge how each groups’ depression symptoms changed as a result of the treatment. The lower the score, the better the patient’s mental health.
Those who had the real laser treatment dropped on average from 14.14 on the scale, to 9.8, while the placebo group hardly changed at all. This suggests that the laser did have a physical effect on the patient and that it wasn’t ‘all in the mind’ as many experts suspect.
Beth Murphy, head of information at the mental health charity Mind, said: ‘”We welcome news of any new therapies being developed for depression, especially those associated with fewer side-effects.”
To find out more about how acupuncture is thought to work, please visit our Acupuncture page.
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