Acupuncture and Movement Disorders

To be totally forthright, the title of this article really should be ‘The Whole Person, That Experiences Movement Disorders,’ because whether you’re aware of it or not, Acupuncture treats the whole person; from the structural, to the biochemical, to the nervous, to even the psychological. People experiencing movement disorders need the kind of care that all people need: Love, Hope and Viable Options, all for resolution and/or improvement of quality of life.

Many of the co-conditions seen with people experiencing movement disorders have been mentioned in prior issues of the PRO newsletter such as: sleep disorders, depression, chronic pain, including Jaw and head pain and mood changes,00 and now, there is strong research that shows Acupuncture having favorable results in the treatment of ALL of these conditions, including the movement disorders themselves. So then why isn’t it routinely offered by our doctors? The simple truth is that it’s not taught in medical school as standard protocol. And don’t be quick to blame as there is so much for them to learn in just four years of medical school, let alone an entirely different approach to patient care that is Acupuncture. I personally have a family member who is just finishing USC medical school and I asked him how many hours of sleep education he’s received, and his answer, even for me, was surprising… zero!  Zero hours of training or education on something all of us spend roughly one third of our lives doing, despite the known relationship between Sleep Breathing Disorders and hypertension, diabetes, Parkinson’s and several other diseases. I bring this to the readers’ attention because what drives paradigm shifts (which is what we need to bring effective, quality care to ourselves and our families) are: needs and economics.

If a person searches for an “alternative” therapy that offers no harm and is efficacious, word will get out as we’ve seen in the past newsletters. This will then cause a shift in the economics, which will result in a short backlash until this new paradigm is accepted. And when this happens, it’s considered old news and now the “current” paradigm. That’s typically how paradigms move along. Research in Argentina has shown that well over half of patients with Parkinson’s have used some form of complementary or alternative therapy, the majority of which incorporated Acupuncture, after seeing their MDs,1 and similar research has shown the use of Acupuncture for Parkinson’s in Sweden.

For the Parkinson’s patient, Acupuncture has been found to enhance dopamine availability and improve motor function,2 and to protect dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra,3,4 and to act as an antioxidant and protect brain cells from dying in experimental rats with PD.5,6,7 Acupuncture can also be combined with other modalities to improve symptoms, such as with prescription medications, 8,9,10 and with oral prosthetics that determine jaw position,11,11a and of course, on its own.11–21

In Chinese Medicine movement disorders are described as “Wind” disorders, or in other words, it moves from one place to another (as does the wind). The aim of Acupuncture and Asian medicine is to help bring the whole body back into balance, so that the intrinsic factors that caused the “Wind” to develop in the first place are addressed. From our western viewpoint, we can look at this from the vantage of the role of loss of balance 22,23 and the inflammatory markers 24,24a around that exasperating the movement disorder. It has been suggested in past research that the firing of sensory fibers (read as pain) causing inflammatory markers can possibly deplete dopamine from the substantia nigra (which is how we believe Parkinson’s presents) but that reducing inflammation greatly reduces the symptoms of Parkinson’s.25–28 Acupuncture on its own has shown to reduce inflammation by many known and unknown pathways 29–31. And depression has strongly been associated with inflammation itself 32–35 as well as Parkinson’s. Which to me, re-reminds me that it has always been about treating the whole person. At the TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre, we screen for and treat chronic pain and sleep disorders as well as offer Acupuncture. These protocols are found in all 12 Centres throughout the U.S., Canada and New Zealand.  For more information visit  Http://

































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