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Electroacupuncture and acupuncture in the treatment of anxiety – A double blinded randomized parallel clinical trial


The estimated number of people living with anxiety disorders worldwide is around 264 million and is estimated to have worsened with the recent pandemic of COVID-19. Acupuncture has shown to have excellent therapeutic effects in reducing anxiety.

Double-blinded randomized controlled clinical trial with 56 participants (21-82 years) with anxiety diagnosed by 3 different anxiety scales (BAI, GAD-7 and OASIS). A 30-min acupuncture session was applied once a week for 10 weeks.

Evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture and electroacupuncture in the treatment of anxiety to verify if: (1) People with high anxiety report reduced scores after 5 and 10 sessions; (2) Salivary cortisol levels accompanied the reduced scores; (3) Electroacupuncture treatment is more effective than acupuncture; (4) the treatments is independent of anxiolytic medication.

Volunteers were randomized into 3 groups (control, acupuncture, and electroacupuncture). The results were analyzed by anxiety scales and salivary cortisol tests.

The findings show an improvement in anxiety, assessed by BAI, GAD-7 and OASIS, after the 5th session of acupuncture (p < 0.05) and electroacupuncture (p < 0.05) and the 10th session for both techniques (p < 0.001). The salivary cortisol values measured in the morning followed this pattern (p < 0.05), although the reduction of the night cortisol values was not statistically significant. Electroacupuncture and acupuncture show similar efficacy. The positive effect after the treatments is independent of anxiolytic medication (p < 0.001).

Acupuncture and electroacupuncture are effective in treating anxiety on their own or as adjuncts to pharmacological therapy.

Trial registration number: NºP445-08/2017 (Unidade de Investigação em Ciências da Saúde)

Diogo Amorim, Irma Brito , Armando Caseiro, João Paulo Figueiredo, André Pinto, Inês Macedo, Jorge Machado

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2022 Feb;46:101541. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2022.101541. Epub 2022 Jan 30.

Link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1744388122000093?via%3Dihub

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