The antidepressant benefits of acupuncture

Acupuncture has been linked to improvements in depressive behavior. Researchers, in a study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, proved that this health benefit has to do with acupuncture’s effect on the ERK signaling pathway.

  • Abnormalities in the ERK signaling pathways have been linked to an increased risk of depression and suicide.
  • The researchers divided 80 male Sprague Dawley rats into eight groups: control group, model group, model + Acupuncture group (Acu group), model + fluoxetine group (FLX group), model + DMSO group (DMSO group), model + PD98059 group (PD group), model + Acupuncture + PD98059 group (Acu + PD group) and model + fluoxetine + PD98059 group (FLX + PD group). All of the rats, except for the ones in the control group, were subjected to three weeks of chronic unpredictable mild stress (CUMS) to induce depression.
  • Acupuncture was performed for 10 minutes every day at acupoints Baihui (GV-20) and Yintang (GV-29) on the rats in the acupuncture groups. The rats in the PD98059 groups had their ERK signaling pathway inhibited with an injection of PD98059. Changes in depression-like behavior were gauged using sucrose intake and open-field tests.
  • Treatment with acupuncture improved depression-like behaviors. This effect was not observed in rats pretreated with PD98059.

The researchers concluded that acupuncture’s antidepressant effect is brought about by the improvements it causes to the ERK signaling pathway.

Read the full text of the study at this link.

Learn more about the benefits of acupuncture and other natural remedies at

Journal Reference:

Zhang X, Song Y, Bao T, Yu M, Xu M, Guo Y, Wang Y, Zhang C, Zhao B. ANTIDEPRESSANT-LIKE EFFECTS OF ACUPUNCTURE INVOLVED THE ERK SIGNALING PATHWAY IN RATS. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2016;16(1). DOI: 10.1186/s12906-016-1356-x

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