While acupuncture is often associated with relieving stress or muscle pain, researchers now believe it may also help improve symptoms of dementia. While the study analysis focused on a small population, it is the first research to look at the outcomes of both Western and Chinese studies, Medical News Daily reported.

Neurologists analyzed two types of studies including one that compared acupuncture directly to nimopipine, which is a calcium blocker that treats a gene mutation associated with dementia, and another that measured the effect of acupuncture when combined with nimodipine, Medical News Daily Reported.

They found that patients who chose acupuncture saw significant changes on mini-mental state examination scores compared to patients who only took nimodipine.

“Overall, our meta-analysis suggests that acupuncture was a useful therapy in improving cognitive function for patients for patients with [amnestic mild cognitive impairment],” the neurologists noted, according to the report. “It also suggested that acupuncture was effective when used as an adjunctive treatment to nimodipine for [mild cognitive impairment].”

The neurologists noted that the next step calls for more studies focused on larger populations and specific types of acupuncture procedures being used to better understand the link.

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“Although acupuncture is generally well tolerated, a condition-specific safety evaluation should also be rigorously carried out and reported in future trials,” they noted.