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  • Writer's picturePhilip Niño Tan-Gatue

Acupuncture for Shabu?

Acupuncture for Shabu?

A while back, I had written a blog entry about how acupuncture can help with reducing relapses in recovering cocaine addicts. (link)  In the Philippines, however, methamphetamines are a bigger problem.  Locally known as “shabu”, it is indeed a social and medical scourge.  Acupuncture for shabu is this a very interesting proposition.

acupuncture for shabu

Inhalation is but one method of recreational meth use.

The Research

Here is an excerpt from the article abstract:

Methamphetamine (METH) is a major drug of abuse worldwide, and no efficient therapeutic strategies for treating METH addiction are currently available. Continuous METH use can cause behavioral upregulation or psychosis. The dopaminergic pathways, particularly the neural circuitry from the ventral tegmental area to the nucleus accumbens (NAc), have a critical role in this behavioral stage.

Just as before, the dopaminergic pathways are highlighted.

The authors also add:

Acupuncture has been used for treating diseases in China for more than 2000 years. According to a World Health Organization report, acupuncture can be used to treat several functional disorders, including substance abuse. In addition, acupuncture is effective against opioids addiction.

So what did the scientists do?

In this study, we used electroacupuncture (EA) for treating METH-induced behavioral changes and investigated the possible therapeutic mechanism. Results showed that EA at the unilateral Zhubin (KI9)-Taichong (LR3) significantly reduced METH-induced behavioral sensitization and conditioned place preference. In addition, both dopamine and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) levels decreased but monoamine oxidase A (MAO-A) levels increased in the NAc of the METH-treated mice receiving EA compared with those not receiving EA. EA may be a useful nonpharmacological approach for treating METH-induced behavioral changes, probably because it reduces the METH-induced TH expression and dopamine levels and raises MAO-A expression in the NAc.

In other words, while other studies focused on the addiction reduction effect of acupuncture, this study focused on how to reduce the detrimental effects of methamphetamines on the subject mice.  It may be useful in treating the behavioral changes involved with meth use.  Acupuncture for shabu? Why not?


Effects of Electroacupuncture on Methamphetamine-Induced Behavioral Changes in Mice. Ho TJ, Lee CW, Lu ZY, Lane HY, Tsai MH, Ho IK, Huang CL, Chiang YC. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:5642708. doi: 10.1155/2017/5642708. Epub 2017 Mar 16.

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