Acupuncture for memory loss


Sefkat Charlotte Abenyakar, MD
Specialist in Acupuncture - Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation


In this report a patient who developed memory loss after a psychological trauma and to whom none of the therapies applied during a period of time of ten years proved beneficial is presented. After 20 sessions of acupuncture therapy, important improvements occurred and the patient who is a lawyer is now able to practice his profession without any difficulty. Key words:acupuncture, memory loss


The patient is 51 years old and male. He is right-handed. In the aftermath of two very severe psychological traumas he started to suffer from substantial memory loss. He may forget everything. He remembers events pertaining to the period before having experienced the traumas. He is a lawyer. He can pursue his profession only with the help of his partners because even though he takes notes while listening to his clients he can forget what has been talked about while the meeting is lasting. He does not remember to whom he is talking on the phone. Forgetfulness is increasing still more due to the stress caused by this state. No pathology has been detected by the physical examination, and in the radiological and laboratory tests performed. Anti-depressants and hypnosis have been tried as therapeutic means but without any result. The neurologist has given him Donepezil 5 mg he used for 5 years. Having no results with the drug it has been ceased. The patient was not taking any drug when he started the acupuncture treatment. No pathology resulted from his physical examination. He was in a state of depression.


The treatment has been set up according the results obtained by performing ear detection and according to our available knowledge on memory. Following points have been used:
  • Gall Bladder (GB) 5, GB 17, GB 20, GB 21
  • Conception channel (CV) 14
  • Pericardium (PC) 6
  • Heart (HT) 7
  • Bladder (BL) 15
  • Governing channel (GV) 20
  • Spleen  (SP) 6
  • Stomach (ST) 36
  • Large Intestine (LI) 4
  • Small Intestine (SI) 3
  • Yintang (M-HN-3).
Ear points : Shen Men, memory points, thalamus point (1). Points have been needled bilaterally. Sterile stainless acupuncture needles were used (0,22 x 25 mm; Manufacturer: WuJiang City Cloud & Dragon Medical Device Co., Ltd. China). Needles have been stimulated with low frequencies with an electrostimulator. (Electronic Acupunctoscope Model WQ 6F (57 – 6F), Dong Hua Electronic Instrument Factory, China).
Leads were placed as described below:
PC 6 – ST 36 (bilaterally) and GB 20 – GB 17 (on the right side). The session duration was 20 minutes. At the start a schedule of 3 sessions a week was pursued. After the 11th treatment the number of sessions has been reduced to twice a week. After the 17th session an interval of a month has been given. And then it was restarted as once a week. A total of 20 treatments have been carried out.

During the first examination while performing the ear detection it was insistently asked to the patient if he had a problem in the anal area; the reply was negative. During the 10th session the patient said that he has experienced an anal fistula chirurgical operation twice and that he had a chronic discharge near the anus. Points BL 28, BL 57 and rectum in the ear have been added to the treatment points. After two sessions the discharge decreased.

Exercises to enhance the memory have been proposed to the patient in addition to the acupuncture treatment (2). At the beginning the patient was forgetting to perform these exercises. Because of this we did the exercises together before the acupuncture session and asked the patient after the session was over if he remembered the exercise.


After the 3rd treatment the patient started to remember certain things (as for ex., where he left his car). Those who were close to him said that they felt an improvement in his state. After the 7th treatment he didn’t forget what he discussed with a new client. He was remembering the exercises we did even after a week.

By the 16th session he was able to remember whom he talked to on the phone in the morning and as well as the details of the conversation. After the 17th session the treatment has been discontinued for a month because the patient was out of the city. As the treatment started again it was observed that the patient was able to remember the details of the pictures shown to him a month earlier. Treatment was continued on the basis of one session a week. Actually 20 sessions has been completed. Great improvement has been observed in the state of the patient and he is able to pursue his profession with ease.


Memory loss can be caused by severe emotional trauma like in the case presented. Anterograde amnesia is a loss or disturbance of memory for events that occur after a trauma ; it is the inability to recall new information. There are several neural structures involved in amnesia. Different brain regions process different forms of memory. The anatomic structures of particular importance in memory function are the diencephalon, the hippocampal formations and amygdaloid nuclei (3). In patient with loss of memory, acupuncture usually is not the first choice for treatment. It has been demonstrated that acupuncture improves learning and memory ability significantly in aged animals when compared with controls (4).

After an acupuncture treatment performed on patients applying because of other complaints an enhancement on memory faculties due to the amelioration in brain circulation can occur. It can be advanced that the improvement in this case has psychological roots. But the patient did not draw any benefit from psychiatric treatments he pursued prior to acupuncture treatment.

I believe that the beneficial effects of acupuncture not only in relation to memory loss due to psychological trauma but also in neurological pathologies leading to such a state should also be investigated in controlled studies.


  1. Oleson T (1995) International Handbook of Ear Reflex Points. Health Care Alternatives USA
  2. Ramacharaka Yogi: Raja Yoga
  3. James L. Mc Gaugh; Memory – a Century of Consolidation. Science, Vol 287, Issue 5451, 248 – 251, 14 January 2000
  4. Deng QS, Fang ZC, Yin Y. Ionic mechanism of acupuncture on improvement of learning and memory in aged mammals. Am J Chin Med 1995; 23 (1): 1-9

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