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Sticking it to the blues with Acupuncture

Until now, modern medicine could offer people with depression only a pill or the prospect of talking it out, sometimes for years. Soon, though, doctors may offer an alternative - the 5,000 year-old Chinese art of Acupuncture.

In a recent University of Arizona study, clinically depressed women received eight weeks of acupuncture, in which practitioners gently pressed needles into specific body points to correct imbalances believed to trigger illness. The results: After getting treatments aimed at relieving depression, about two-thirds were cured of the condition, a rate similar to that achieved with antidepressants and psychotherapy.

(Researchers ruled out the placebo effect by giving one group acupuncture at points believed to be unrelated to depression.)

Although the study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health's Office of Alternative Medicine, is preliminary, author John Allen, Ph.D., believes acupuncture eventually may benefit people for whom other treatments fail. Unlike antidepressant drugs, for instance, acupuncture has no side effects. And Allen predicts that it may offer the best way yet to forestall future episodes of depression. That's a significant worry, since people who've suffered one bout of depression have a 50 percent chance of enduring another.

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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is nutritional in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. This notice is required by the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

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Last modified: June 28, 2015