Acupuncture is used for a broad range of psychological conditions including anxiety, depression and insomnia. All of these are commonly treated with acupuncture and/or Chinese Herbal Medicines within Chinese Medicine clinics worldwide. Insomnia is a very common reason for visting an acupuncturist often to look for alternatives to western medications as sleep aids. Researchers from Chiayi Branch of Taichung Veterans Hospital in Taiwan recently conducted a study comparing acupuncture to Ambien (Zolpidem Tartrate) for primary insomnia.
To evaluate the effectiveness of these methods, researchers divided 33 patients with primary insomnia into a western medicine treatment group (ambien) and an acupuncture group. They used the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) to evalute the patients before and after the 4 week intervention. Those in the western group received 10mg of Ambien nightly and those in the acupuncture group received one weekly session for the study duration (4 weeks).
Researchers found that both groups improved significantly in sleep measures. The study didn't appear to account for side effects nor did it account for how long people would need the intervention. Clinical outcomes would allude to the fact that over time acupuncture would provide quality sleep without further interventions whereas Ambien would need to be taken for an undetermined amount of time so long as symptoms remain. Further studies would have to be done over a longer period of time to evaluate what we see clinically.
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