Plain English Summary
Background and study aims
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine, which has been used to treat a range of medical conditions. It has been used as a treatment for the rehabilitation of stroke patients with one-sided weakness (hemiparesis) for decades), and has been shown to help in the recovery of movement (motor recovery). The reason for this is unknown, however some believe that the acupuncture causes new connections in the brain to form in order to use new pathways to avoid the old, affected ones (neuroplasticity). The aim of this study is to use a type of brain scanning to find out whether acupuncture can lead to neuroplastic changes in the brain in healthy adults.
Who can participate?
Ten healthy adult volunteers.
What does the study involve?
Participants are allocated to undergo two treatment periods in a random order, with seven days of no treatment in between. The first treatment period involves 30 minutes of acupuncture. This involves having acupuncture needles applied to acupoints (locations on the body affected by acupuncture) in the left hand, arm and lower leg, which are then moved around to create an aching, tingling sensation. The second treatment involves sitting in a comfortable chair whilst being relaxed and alert for 30 minutes. Before and 10 minutes after each treatment period, participants in both groups have a brain scan to see if the treatment has had any effect on the brain.
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
There are no direct benefits or risks involved for those participating in this study.
Where is the study run from?
Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine (China)
When is the study starting and how long is it to run for?
December 2015 to July 2016
Who is funding the study?
Beijing Municipal Administration of Hospitals Clinical Medicine Development of Special Funding (China)
Who is the main contact?
Professor Linpeng Wang
Prof Linpeng Wang
Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Meishuguanhoujie No. 23
Neuroplasticity changes on human motor cortex induced by acupuncture therapy for health subjects: a preliminary study
Bilateral excitability of primary motor cortex and interhemispheric interaction could be modulated by acupuncture intervention on healthy subject.
Research Ethical Committee of Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 24/03/2016, ref: 2016BL-018-001
Interventional single-centre randomised cross-over study
Primary study design
Secondary study design
Randomised cross over trial
Patient information sheet
No participant information sheet available
Cortical neural plasticity
Participants are randomised to receive two treatment periods in a random order. Between the treatment periods, there is a 7 day wash-out period where no treatment is received.
Intervention period: Participants receive a 30 minute period of acupuncture treatment, in which needles are applied to ten acupoints located on the left forearm, hand and lower leg are applied. The needling methods of “lifting and thrusting” and “rotating” are conducted on each point until the sensation of Deqi (a characteristic sensation of aching and tingling) is reported by the subjects. Then, the needles are kept in situ without further stimulation.
Control period: Participants are asked to sit comfortably on an armchair and are instructed to keep relaxed but alert during the control period. No needling stimulation takes place.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation measures, including resting motor threshold, amplitudes of motor evoked potential and interhemispheric inhibition are assessed before and 10 minutes after each treatment period.
Primary outcome measure
Amplitudes of motor evoked potential on primary motor cortex are measured using the transcranial magnetic stimulation before and 10 minutes after each treatment period.
Secondary outcome measures
1. Resting motor threshold is measured using transcranial magnetic stimulation before and 10 minutes after each treatment period
2. Interhemispheric inhibition is measured using transcranial magnetic stimulation before and 10 minutes after each treatment period
3. F-wave is measured using electromyography before and 10 minutes after each treatment period
Overall trial start date
Overall trial end date
Reason abandoned (if study stopped)
Participant inclusion criteria
1. Without neurological, psychiatric or other medical problems
3. Aged 18-65 years
Target number of participants
Participant exclusion criteria
Reported contra-indication to transcranial magnetic stimulation.
Recruitment start date
Recruitment end date
Countries of recruitment
Trial participating centre
Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Meishuguanhoujie No. 23 Dongcheng Province
Beijing Municipal Administration of Hospitals Clinical Medicine Development of Special Funding
Funding Body Type
Funding Body Subtype
Results and Publications
Publication and dissemination plan
Planned publication in the journal Neural Plasticity before March 2017.
The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are/will be available upon request from Professor Linpeng Wang (email@example.com)
Intention to publish date
Participant level data
Available on request
Basic results (scientific)