Auricular (ear) acupuncture decreases the anxiety

Auricular acupuncture: a potential treatment for anxiety.
Wang SM, Kain ZN.

Department of Anesthesiology, Yale University School of Medicine and Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven, Connecticut 06521, USA.

Acupuncture can be an effective treatment for chronic anxiety disorders. The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of acupuncture in reducing anxiety in a volunteer population. If found effective, this modality could be introduced as a treatment of anxiety before surgery. Adult volunteers (n = 55), were randomized to three treatment groups: a) Shenmen group–bilateral auricular acupuncture at the “shenmen” point; b) Relaxation group-bilateral auricular acupuncture at a “relaxation” point; and c) Sham group-bilateral auricular acupuncture at a “sham” point. Press-acupuncture needles were inserted at the respective auricular areas for 48 h. State anxiety, blood pressure, heart rate, and electrodermal activity were assessed at 30 min, 24 h, and 48 h after insertion. Analyzing anxiety levels using repeated-measures analysis of variance has demonstrated a significant difference [F (2,51) =8.8, P = 0.001] between the three treatment groups. Post hoc analysis demonstrated that patients in the Relaxation group were significantly less anxious at 30 min (P = 0.007) and 24 h (P = 0.035) as compared with patients in both the Shenmen group and the Sham group, and less anxious at 48 h (P = 0.042) as compared with patients in Shenmen group. Repeated-measures analysis of variance performed for electrodermal activity, blood pressure, and heart rate demonstrated no group differences (P = ns). We conclude that auricular acupuncture at the “relaxation” point can decrease the anxiety level in a population of healthy volunteers.

Anesth Analg. 2001 Feb;92(2):548-53.