top of page

Acupuncture and Herbs Benefit Autistic Children

Acupuncture combined with herbal medicine benefits children with autism. Hebei Province researchers conducted a clinical trial and determined that acupuncture and herbal medicine treatments produce significant clinical benefits. The researches conclude that acupuncture improves communication, language, physical movement, and sensory perception. In addition, the children in the study demonstrated improvements in self-care. Based on the data, the researchers conclude that the addition of acupuncture and herbal medicine to a standard rehabilitation protocol improves positive patient outcomes. 

The Hebei Province research was conducted through two local medical centers. A total of 92 children with autism were randomly assigned to receive either standard rehabilitation (n=46) or treatment with acupuncture and herbs (n=46). Ages in the rehabilitation group prior to the investigation ranged between 2–10 years, with a mean age of 5.58. Ages in the acupuncture group ranged between 3–14 years, with a mean age of 5.72.

The two groups were statistically similar in terms of gender and severity of symptoms prior to implementing the prescribed treatment regimens in the clinical investigation. Patients in the acupuncture and herbs group received functional training but the standard rehabilitation group did not receive acupuncture and herbal medicine treatment.

Inclusion criteria for the study were a biomedical diagnosis of autism combined with any of the following Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) diagnoses: phlegm misting the heart orifice, heart and spleen deficiency, kidney jing-essence deficiency, heart and liver fire blazing. All patients were required to have an informed consent signed by a parent or guardian. Exclusion criteria were the following: schizophrenia, exceptional language disability, Rett syndrome, physical dysfunction of the sensory organs.

Standard Rehabilitation Patients in the rehabilitation group received therapy with a rehabilitation doctor specialist in the areas of behavior, communication, and mental function. Modern techniques such as speech and language training, behavioural correction, cognitive therapy, and sensory therapy were employed. Treatment was given for a total of six months.

Acupuncture and Herbs Acupuncture and herbs were prescribed on an individual basis according to each patient’s TCM syndrome differentiation. Individual diagnostic criteria were semi-protocolized to phlegm misting the heart orifice, heart and spleen deficiency, kidney jing-essence deficiency, or heart and liver fire blazing upwards. The treatment programs for each diagnostic category are listed below.

Phlegm Misting The Heart Orifice Primary symptoms include: mental confusion, talking to oneself, dribbling saliva, abundant mucus, dull complexion, enlarged tongue with a sticky, white coating and a slippery pulse. These patients were prescribed Di Tan Tang formula consisting of the following herbs: Fa Ban Xia 5g, Hua Ju Hong 5g, Fu Ling 5g, Da Huang 5g, Dan Nan Xing 5g, Zhi Shi 5g, Sheng Di Huang 5g, Gui Zhi 3g, Niu Xi 3g, Zhu Ru 3g. The following acupuncture points were preselected for patients in this diagnostic category: Pishu (BL20), Neiguan (PC6), Fenglong (ST40).

Heart and Spleen Deficiency Primary symptoms included the following: insomnia, poor appetite, abdominal distension, loose stools, fatigue, deep red tongue with a thick, sticky coating and a tight, slippery pulse. These patients were prescribed Gui Pi Yang Xin Tang formula consisting of the following herbs: Dang Shen 8g, Huang Qi 5g, Dang Gui 5g, Long Yan Rou 5g, Bai Zhu 3g, Mu Xiang 3g, Chen Pi 3g, Fu Shen 5g, Suan Zao Ren 5g, Yuan Zhi 5g. The following acupoints were preselected and applied: Xinshu (BL15), Sanyinjiao (SP6).

Kidney Jing-Essence Deficiency Primary symptoms included weakness, fatigue, poor appetite, cold extremities, aversio