Music Electroacupuncture Outperforms Antidepressant Drug.

Researchers conclude that music electroacupuncture causes improved behavioral changes and benefits to neuronal structures in the hippocampus. In a laboratory experiment on depressive rats, music electroacupuncture outperformed fluoxetine (Prozac) for regulating monoamine neurotransmitter levels. Based on the findings, researchers (Cao et al.) conclude that music electroacupuncture demonstrates effectiveness for the treatment of depression.

In a separate investigation (Tang et al.), two types of acupuncture are found to successfully regulate behavioral changes. Based on the findings, the researchers note that music electroacupuncture and standard pulsed electroacupuncture, may assist in the prevention of Alzheimer Disease. In a controlled experiment, laboratory rats receiving electroacupuncture had decreased latency times, improved swimming distances, and significant reductions of β-amyloid protein levels. β-amyloid (Aβ) proteins are the main constituents of amyloid plaques occurring in Alzheimer disease patients’ brains. The researchers noted that music electroacupuncture and standard electroacupuncture improved “learning and memorizing abilities.” Overall, music electroacupuncture outperformed standard electroacupuncture. 

Music electroacupuncture differs from standard electroacupuncture by switching frequencies and waveforms in rhythmic patterns instead of a consistent pulse. Choices of electroacupuncture settings are based on five musical notations (Gong, Shang, Jue, Zhi, Yu). Each setting corresponds to Traditional Chinese Medicine principles of the Five Elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, water) and their corresponding organ systems (liver/gallbladder, heart/small intestine, spleen/stomach, lung/large intestine, kidney/bladder). The settings are adjusted for different diagnosis of each patient.

The Healthcare Medicine Institute (HealthCMi) has not had a chance to test the music electroacupuncture device yet however, we recently tested the ITO ES-160 electroacupuncture device and confirmed its efficaciousness for the alleviation of pain using the sweep mode. Sweep mode involves a gradual increase and decrease of pulse frequencies over time. The adding of subtle gradations between frequency changes in sweep mode demonstrated significant clinical advantages for the treatment of several pain conditions. While the ES-160 has standard intermittent modes, it shows the sweep mode is an important addition.

The laboratory research finds that music electroacupuncture and conventional pulsed electroacupuncture are effective in treating depression in rats. Researchers (Tang et al.) from Beijing University of Chinese Medicine determined, through a protocolized investigation, that both types of electroacupuncture produced positive outcomes in depressed rat models, but music electroacupuncture produced the highest rate of positive outcomes across various metrics. Given the prevalence of depression in society, this research includes important subjective and objective findings.

In this laboratory study, rats receiving electroacupuncture (either music or conventional) displayed higher horizontal activity, vertical activity, sugar consumption, body mass, and expression of serotonin (5-HT), dopamine (DA), and norepinephrine (NE) in the frontal lobe and hippocampus. Additionally, rats treated with music electroacupuncture reported having a higher 5-HT expression than those treated with conventional electroacupuncture. Overall, music and conventional pulsed electroacupuncture demonstrated antidepressant effects in rats, however, music electroacupuncture demonstrated a greater regulatory effect on monoamine neurotransmitters than conventional pulsed electroacupuncture and fluoxetine.

The experiment involved several controlled variables. A total of 50 depression model rats were divided into 5 equal groups of 10 as follows:

  • Control group: Rats were grouped together. Unlimited supply of water and food was provided. Did not receive any stimulation.

  • Model group: Rats were isolated. Received 21 days of chronic unpredictable mild stress stimulation.

  • Fluoxetine group: Rats were isolated. Fluoxetine was diluted with saline to a density of 2 mg/ml. For each rat, 10 ml of diluted fluoxetine was administered per kg of body mass. Medication was administered once per day, one hour before chronic unpredictable mild stress stimulation.

  • Standard pulsed electroacupuncture group: Rats were isolated. Treatment was administered one hour prior to chronic unpredictable mild stress stimulation.

  • Music electroacupuncture: Rats were isolated. Treatment was administered one hour prior to chronic unpredictable mild stress stimulation.

The acupuncture point prescription included standard filiform needle stimulation of acupoints Yintang (MHN3) and Baihui (GV20). For each acupoint in the standard pulsed electroacupuncture group, a filiform acupuncture needle was connected to an electroacupuncture device and was inserted horizontally. The tip of the needle was pointed posteriorly for Baihui and downwards for Yintang. The electrical frequency was set to 2/100 Hz and the intensity was set to 1 mA. The needles were retained for 20 minutes. One 20 minute acupuncture session was conducted per day for a total of 21 days.

For the music electroacupuncture group, acupoint selection and treatment of acupoints was identical to that of the pulsed electroacupuncture group. However, instead of a conventional electroacupuncture device, the needles were connected to a music electroacupuncture device. Voltage was set to 2 V and intensity to 1 mA, until the needle tip was vibrating slightly but did not cause the rat to squeak. An antidepressant music electroacupuncture setting was chosen. The needles were retained for 20 minutes while an acupuncture session was conducted per day for a total of 21 days.

The Tang et al. laboratory experiment demonstrated significant improvements in behavioral and objective results, including improvements in serotonin (5-HT), dopamine (DA), and norepinephrine (NE) levels determined by radioimmunoassay in depression model rats. Additional testing with human subjects is required, including large sample size meta-analyses, to determine the overall efficaciousness of music electroacupuncture for the treatment of depression. The Healthcare Medicine Institute plans on taking a closer look at this innovative approach to electroacupuncture.


Tang YS, Ji Q, Cao J, Teng JY, Deng XF, Li J, Li ZG. (2014). Influence of Music Electroacupuncture and Pulsed Electroacupuncture on the Different Encephalic Regions of Monoamine Neurotransmitter Chronic Unpredictable Mild Stress Depression Model Rats. Journal of Clinical Acupuncture and Moxibustion. 30(3). 

Cao J, Tang Y, Li Z, Ji Q, Yao H, Mo Y, Wang X, Song L. Effects of Music Electro-Acupuncture on the Expression of Monoamine Neurotransmitter in Different Encephalic Regions in Chronic Unpredictable Mild Stress Depression Model Rats. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2014 May 1;20(5):A39.

Tang Y, Cao J, Li Z, Chen W, Xu AP, Mo YP, Yao H, Wang X, Liang C. Effects of Music Electro-Acupuncture and Pulsed Electro-Acupuncture on Behavioral Changes and the Serum β-amyloid Protein in SAMP8 (Senescence Accelerated Mouse Prone 8) Mice. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2014 May 1;20(5):A38.

Acupuncture Found Effective for Depression Treatment

Acupuncture Found Effective for Depression Treatment

Researchers from Jinan University (Guangzhou, China) conclude that acupuncture is effective for the alleviation of depression. In the study, the acupuncture treatment group achieved a total efficacy rate of 88.9% and the drug control group achieved an efficacy rate of 84.8%. Patients in the control group received administration of the pharmaceutical medication fluoxetine (Prozac®). Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication. It is used for patients with depression, panic attacks, eating disorders, stress and anxiety, and other conditions including obsessive-compulsive disorders. The researchers conclude that acupuncture slightly outperforms fluoxetine for the treatment of depression. In addition, acupuncture treatment displays certain advantages compared with anti-depressant drugs. Acupuncture achieved a higher cure rate and the drugs had a significant adverse reaction rate.

Globally, depression is responsible for a serious impact on patients’ work performance and quality of lives. Hence, finding the most effective treatment has become a matter of utmost urgency to medical researchers around the world. Acupuncture has an ancient and well documented history for the treatment of mental illness. The study focuses on a scientific comparison between drug therapy and acupuncture therapy. 

The study involved the selection of 72 patients who received acupuncture or drug treatments at the Acupuncture and Psychology department of the First Affiliated Hospital of Jinan University. Patients were randomly assigned to a drug control group and an acupuncture treatment group. The treatment group was comprised of 17 males and 19 females, with an average age of 29 years and a depression medical history of 20 months; the control group had 20 males and 16 females, with an average age of 28 years and a depression medical history of 21 months.

The patients from both groups were comparable as there were no significant differences in terms of their gender, age and medical histories. It is important to take note that pregnant women, breast feeding mothers, and patients who recently underwent surgery were not included in the experiment. The patients fulfilling at least 4 criteria as stated below were selected for the study:

  • Prolonged melancholy (Loss of interest and happiness, Attenuated energy, Slow reactions, Low self-esteem and feeling guilty, Difficulties with imagination and critical thinking, Recurrent suicidal thoughts and behaviors, Sleeping difficulties such as insomnia, waking up too early and sleeping too much, Decreased appetite, Decreased sexual desires)

  • Socialization dysfunction

  • Symptoms listed above for at least 2 week duration

Each treatment course consisted of 10 acupuncture treatments followed by a 5 day break before the next course began. All patients received 4 treatment courses in total. Patients from the control group consumed fluoxetine hydrochloride tablets, once a day after breakfast. Every 10 days of tablet consumption consisted of one treatment course. A total of 4 courses were administered, with 5 days of break time between courses. During their courses of treatment, all patients received counseling by doctors in order to rebuild their confidence. They were not allowed to consume any other medications during the study.

After 4 courses of care, the acupuncture treatment group achieved an efficacy rate of 88.9%. A total of 21 patients were cured, 11 showed dramatic improvements, and 4 patients remained uncured. The control group achieved an efficacy rate of 84.8%. A total of 9 patients were cured, 20 showed significant improvements and 7 remained uncured. The efficacy rates show significant differences between the two treatments.

The drug treatment regimen achieved significant results but with difficulties associated with adverse effects. Compliance issues for pill consumption are compounded by withdrawal symptoms associated with non-compliance with medication schedules. The acupuncture treatments did not have any serious adverse effects. In addition, the total efficacy rate and the cure rate were higher in the acupuncture group. The results demonstrate that acupuncture is an important treatment option for patients with depression. A greater focus on the role of acupuncture for the treatment of mental illness in standard care settings has the potential to increase positive patient outcomes. Moreover, acupuncture has the potential to address physical ailments while simultaneously addressing depression. The successful clinical patient outcomes documented in the study point to the need for further investigations

Wei Bo, Xu Yi, Clinical observations on acupuncture treatment for depression, Journal of Jinan University (Natural Science & Medicine Edition), 2013, 34(6).