Acupuncture therapy for psychiatric illness

Karen Pilkington

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Acupuncture has traditionally been used for problems including anxiety, insomnia, stress, and depression in China and other East Asian countries. A range of different neurobiological responses to acupuncture have been investigated including modulation of serotonergic, noradrenergic, and dopaminergic systems; effects on GABA and the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis; and inflammatory responses. Interpretation of the findings is challenging because the neurobiology of psychiatric disorders has yet to be fully elucidated. Limitations also arise from the use of animal models and the selection of appropriate control treatments. Further complexity is added by acupuncture treatment being nonstandardized with acupuncture points often selected on the basis on traditional practice and theory. Potentially promising findings require further investigation and substantiation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNeurobiology of Acupuncture
EditorsBai-Yun Zeng, Kaicun Zhao, Fan-Rong Liang
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)978-0124115453
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameInternational Review of Neurobiology


  • acupunture
  • neurobiology
  • neurotransmitters
  • psychiatric disorders
  • substance abuse


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