It is difficult to be objective about the treatment of disorders such as anxiety and depression, as the problems themselves are difficult to assess objectively, and therefore no good clear figures are available about their treatment with acupuncture.
In spite of this, many acupuncturists, including the Chinese, treat a wide range of ‘mental disorders’ with acupuncture. Many people have stated that acupuncture is clearly effective in helping symptoms such as insomnia and bed-wetting, and can also create a feeling of general well-being. Patients who receive acupuncture for specific problems, such as ankle pain, will often note how well they feel after the treatment. It would be very misleading to give figures of ‘cure rates’ for these problems because such disorders naturally relapse and remit, often improving when a sympathetic listener becomes involved. I think it is fair to say, however, that acupuncture can sometimes effect mood changes that help these problems significantly.
The Chinese have completed trials on some of the more clearly defined and serious mental diseases, such as schizophrenia. In a trial involving over 400 patients they claim a 54 per cent cure rate for this disease, with a further 30 per cent showing ‘significant improvement’. These figures are exceptionally high and, if correct, are most interesting. Their criteria for evaluating a ‘cure’ or a ‘significant improvement’ are not clearly stated and so it is difficult to be sure whether these results are valid. Many claims have been made for the effects of acupuncture in the treatment of a variety of ‘nervous disorders’ but, sadly, there is no good hard evidence to substantiate or refute such claims; however, from a variety of excellent research papers it is clear that acupuncture can influence quite radically many areas of the central nervous system. This work is of a purely scientific nature and at present it is not directly applicable to the clinical effects of acupuncture therapy.