Article Text

It's all in the mind! Or is it? Positive acupuncture responses in patients with dementia: a series of case reports
  1. Nicolette Williams1,
  2. Duncan Lawler2,
  3. Peter Dilworth3
  1. 1Church Street Surgery, Ware, Hertfordshire, UK
  2. 2Physiotherapy and Acupuncture Clinic, Clonanny, Portarlington, Co. Laois, Ireland
  3. 3Central Surgery, Lowe House Primary Care Centre, St Helens, Merseyside, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Nicolette Williams, Church Street Surgery, Church Street, Ware, Hertfordshire SG12 9EF, UK; nwilliams45{at}, nicky.williams{at}


Controversy continues over whether or not there is any real effect from acupuncture over and above that of placebo. However, this series of case studies may provide us with evidence from an unlikely source. Anticipation of clinical benefit is a major element of placebo, and clearly cognition is needed to experience this. This raises the question of how much placebo effect is experienced by a patient with dementia. These cases document reliably witnessed responses to acupuncture in patients with impaired cognition, which have been reproducible and maintained. Given the similarity of responses, it could be argued that these reports provide evidence of a ‘real’ effect of acupuncture, and raise the possibility of including patients with dementia in formal studies from which they might routinely be excluded.

  • Acupuncture

Statistics from

Request permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles