Acupuncture for TBI and Stroke

  • Introduction
  • Acupuncture and Brain Injury
  • Blog – Scalp Acupuncture
  • References


Although there remains some skepticism in the west about the effectiveness of acupuncture, it has been of more interest to scientists in recent years with research showing some positive results. 

Well, it is if you are standing the right side of the fence. For those scientists and doctors who don’t believe illness is caused by blockages or poor flow of chi energy, there remains a lot of doubt about its’ effectiveness.

Originating in China over 2,000 years ago, there is a rumour that there are no TBI clinics there because they don’t need them. Apparently the Chinese treat all TBI’s and strokes with acupuncture unless surgical intervention is required, in which case it is used post-operation.

Acupuncture is thought of in much the same way as other ‘alternative’ treatments by many medical practitioners, however people living with brain injuries who don’t have medical support, will often try anything to relieve unrelenting symptoms, discomfort, and very often, pain.

Reports from individuals who have tried acupuncture for their brain injury are very positive, and in some hospitals, it is already being used at the acute phase.

Acupuncture and Brain Injury

Acupuncture can be used to stimulate the brain and also the body and organ function.

A number of studies have been undertaken, in California in particular, which have led to acupuncture being more widely accepted by medical doctors. According to some sources this is where electroacupuncture was first developed, particularly in conjunction with brain stimulation.

Very fine acupuncture needles are inserted in traditional points and are connected to small electronic device that generates pulses via small clips attached to the needles. Studies show this augments the stimulation of the meridians or energy tracts within the body which releases stagnation and blockages.

Electro-acupuncture along the scalp has been shown to increase proteins and enzymes around the neurons of the brain to promote nerve regeneration and slow the degradation of brains cells from inflammation.¹

Meta-analysis showed that acupuncture or electroacupuncture significantly decreased spasticity after stroke. A subgroup analysis showed that acupuncture significantly decreased wrist, knee, and elbow spasticity in post-stroke patients. Acupuncture or electroacupuncture could be effective in decreasing the spasticity after stroke, but long-term studies are needed to determine the longevity of treatment effects.²

Where the inflammatory response has not been previously addressed and has perhaps led to other physical or neurological problems, acupuncture may induce healing across the entire body in conjunction with other life-style changes.

These life-style changes would be adherence to:

  • healthy nutrition choices including a focus on pro and pre-biotics
  • healthy sleep patterns
  • getting daily exercise and daylight
  • the use of neuro-protectives such as black seed oil


Complimentary Medical Association – Electroacupuncture and Brain Injuries

Neural Regeneration Research – Acupuncture and neuro-regeneration in ischemic stroke

¹PubMed – Acupuncture Induces the Proliferation and Differentiation of Endogenous Neural Stem Cells in Rats with Traumatic Brain Injury

²Hindawi – Acupuncture for Spasticity after Stroke: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials – Sung Min Lim, Junghee Yoo, Euiju LeeHyun Jung KimSeungwon Shin, Gajin Han, and Hyeong Sik Ahn

1Department of Motor & Cognition Rehabilitation, Korean National Rehabilitation Research Institute, 111 Gaorigil, Gangbuk-gu, Seoul 142-884, Republic of Korea

2College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, 23 Kyungheedae-ro, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul 130-872, Republic of Korea

Institute for Evidence-Based Medicine, Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, Korea University, 126-1 Anam-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul 136-705, Republic of Korea

PubMed – Cerebral blood flow and apoptosis-associated factor with electroacupuncture in a traumatic brain injury rat model

PubMed – Changes in regional cerebral blood flow and glucose metabolism following electroacupuncture at LI 4 and LI 11 in normal volunteers

Science Direct – Different modes of manual acupuncture stimulation differentially modulate cerebral blood flow velocity, arterial blood pressure and heart rate in human subjects

PubMed – Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Acupuncture Stimulation via the Vagus Nerve