Acupuncture; Although increasing numbers of patients are seeking acupuncture treatment for depression in recent years, the effectiveness of acupuncture remains unclear. Wu et al. (2012) conducted a PubMed search for publications through 2011. Acupuncture reduced side effects of anti-depressant in major depressive disorder. Published data suggest that acupuncture is a potential effective mono-therapy for depression, and a safe, well-tolerated augmentation in anti-depressant partial responders and non-responders (Wu et al., 2012).
In addition to measuring clinical response, several clinical studies have assessed changes in levels of neurotransmitters and other biological response modifiers in an attempt to elucidate the specific biological actions of acupuncture (Pilkington, 2010).
Acupuncture can regulate autonomic function to stimulate the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS), dorsal motor nucleus of vagi (DMV), and rostral ventrolateral medulla (RVLM) of the brain stem (Takahashi 2011).
Acupuncture also stimulates opioid release from the PAG (Li et al., 2009) and OXT release from the hypothalamus (Yoshimoto et al. 2012), respectively. Released opioid and OXT may work to suppress stress responses and anxiety. Thus, anti-stress effects of acupuncture can be explained by its stimulatory effects on the autonomic nervous system, and OXT/opioid system.