Acupuncture may help those who are suffering from the early stages of dementia, a new study suggests. This stage, known as mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is somewhere between that of memory loss due to normal aging and memory loss due to dementia. This new study is one of the first that looks at the combination of Western and Eastern medicine, suggesting that acupuncture may work best if they are used in concert with one another. 
For this research, 568 people with MCI were studied. 288 received acupuncture whilst the remainder received nimodipine, a drug that is supposed to help reduce some of the effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Three such studies were conducted in this way, while one studied the effect on the two when combined with one another. And while other studies had been done in a similar manner in 2011 and 2012, 5 out of 10 of them were not unsuitable for this current study. 
After poring over results of previous research and current research, it was concluded that those who participated in both acupuncture treatment and took nimodipine were most likely to perform well on mini memory tests than those who had received nimodipine alone. 
Those who participated in the study ranged in age from 26 to 94. In four of the trials, participants received acupuncture 3-5 days a week for 8 weeks, and in the other, received it for 3 months.
However, the participants did experience some side effects of the treatments. Namely, those who received acupuncture sometimes experienced fainting and light-headedness or bleeding from the site of the acupuncture wound. Those who took the nimodipine reported stomach upset and mild headaches.
While this trial does demonstrate that acupuncture can work well in conjunction with other treatments, the researchers have noticed several faults in the trial that make it inconclusive at this point. For example, those who conducted the experiment did not take the placebo effect into account. It was also neglected that most of the recruits for this study were in China, and therefore much more likely to believe that acupuncture therapy works, and in some cases, may actually prefer it to Western medicine.
Anna Scanlon is an author of YA and historical fiction and a PhD student at the University of Leicester where she is finishing her degree in modern history.