Effects of acupuncture stimulation on brain activation induced by cue-elicited alcohol craving
Acupuncture has been shown to be effective on alcohol use disorder. However, the underlying mechanism remains poorly understood. To investigate the effects of Shenmen (HT7) acupoint on brain activation induced by cue-elicited alcohol craving, 30 right-handed healthy light to moderate alcohol drinkers were recruited from the community. They were randomly assigned to undergo acupuncture either at HT7 (experimental acupoint, n = 15) or Jingqu (LU8, control acupoint, n = 15) acupoints. This randomized controlled study was performed in Daegu Haany University and Daegu-Gyeongbuk Medical Innovation Foundation, Republic of Korea. Recruitment and data collection were conducted from December 2018 to May 2019. The results showed that after acupuncture at HT7 acupoint, the activation of orbitofrontal cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was greatly increased, while the activation of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was obviously reduced, and subject's craving for alcohol was reduced when he/she seeing alcohol-related video clips involving various alcohols (beer, wine, or soju) or drinking scenarios. Acupuncture at HT7 more greatly reduced subject's alcohol cravings than acupuncture at LU8 acupoint. These findings suggest that acupuncture can improve the self-control of mild to moderate social drinkers through the activation of the orbitofrontal cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, thereby reducing the craving for alcohol. The study protocol was approved by the Institutional Review Board of Daegu Haany University Korean Medicine Hospital, Republic of Korea (approval No. DHUMC-D-18026-PRO-02) on November 30, 2018.