Observational studies of parkinson’s disease treated with Chinese herbs and scalp and body acupuncture-  a series of five cases

By Hanya Chlala



Parkinson’s disease affects over 120,000 people in the UK and is generally treated using drug therapy. In China however, biomedical treatment is often combined with a traditional Chinese medicine approach in order to manage motor and non-motor symptoms. Studies conducted in China report very positive results from using Chinese medicine for Parkinson’s disease; although Western studies are less conclusive, there have been no trials using Chinese herbs alongside acupuncture for Parkinson’s disease in the West. Aims and objectives This study aimed to consider the practicalities of using Chinese medicine as an adjunct treatment for Parkinson’s disease, focusing in particular on three important non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease: sleep problems, bowel function and mood. It also considered additional benefits of treatment such as improvements in other symptoms. Additionally it critically analyses the outcome measures used.


A series of observational case studies were undertaken in order to look at how idiopathic Parkinson’s disease can be treated with Chinese medicine alongside conventional biomedicine, as much as possible employing techniques currently used in China. Five participants were treated in a twelve week study, which included 24 acupuncture sessions. They received both scalp and body acupuncture, tuina and Chinese nutritional and lifestyle advice. One out of the five was also prescribed Chinese herbs.


Quantitative results were recorded by using three questionnaires: PDQ-8 (Parkinson’s Disease Quality of Life Questionnaire Short Form), PDSS (Parkinson’s Disease Sleep Scale) and MYMOP2 (Measure Yourself Medical Outcome Profile), plus a six week follow-up. There was an overall improvement in outcome measures with positive results particularly found in quality of life scores. The greatest improvements were found in the sleep scale, with additional subjectively reported benefits found in other non-motor symptoms such as stiffness, constipation, prostatitis, faecal incontinence, urinary urgency and overall mood. No major adverse reactions occurred.


This study establishes appropriate treatment parameters in order to do further research.