Scalp acupuncture can be effective for essential tremor. Essential tremor affects 2-3% of the population. The tremors may be mild, but can be severe enough to interfere with eating, writing and regular daily activities. Drug treatments include beta-blockers and anticonvulsants. Unfortunately these treatments are only effective in 50% of patients. Essential tremor has a genetic component, since it tends to run in families.
Other risks factors are agricultural work (specifically with wheat and barley) and frosted glass exposure.
While the research for scalp acupuncture is still in its infancy, we have been fortunate to see some success with it at the Integrate Healthcare Centre and the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic. The needles are inserted along specific meridians on the scalp. An electro-stimulation device is attached to the needles and current is directed to run from one point to another. The session lasts approximately 20 minutes and is repeated 1-2 per week, more frequently if possible.
Results can be seen within 2-3 sessions, but further treatment is required for longer lasting improvement.
A typical course runs between 8-10 sessions.
Scalp acupuncture can also be used to treat motor problems like muscle weakness and bradykinesia of Parkinson’s disease (for other treatments click here).
Unlike typical acupuncture sessions, which are often very calm and relaxing – these sessions are quite active!
Once the needles are in place and the current is running the patient is invited to practice their gait, with or without assistance. Occasionally we’ll explore additional exercise depending on the where the movement is impaired.
Lifestyle approaches to managing essential tremors include improving sleep and dietary habits. Mediterranean diet, which comes highly recommended for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer prevention, may be an option to consider for essential tremor. Observational studies show negative correlation between the diet and tremor, suggesting it may be protective against the tremor.