To the Editor: In June 1998 I presented a paper on acupuncture during a symposium at the American Psychiatric Association meeting in Toronto (1). The paper answered some basic questions about acupuncture such as "What is it?" and "Does it work?" and also described how acupuncture relates to psychiatric symptomatology.
Several articles in the bibliography describe the successful use of acupuncture for patients with schizophrenia (2,3,4,5). For example, staff at a community mental health center in Waco, Texas, followed 16 outpatients with severe and chronic mental illness from January 1991 through December 1997 (2). The patients frequently self-medicated with nicotine, alcohol, and street drugs. They could not cope on their own. The five-point auricular acupuncture detoxification protocol developed by the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association was used to treat the nicotine habit of the patients for two of the seven years. During that time, only one patient was hospitalized for a two-day stay compared with a baseline average hospitalization for the 16 patients of two or three times a year and an average stay of three to six months. Patients formed a community, functioned independently, and lived a much more normal life.
Acupuncture has also been used with violent persons and victims of national disasters as well as to treat affective and anxiety disorders, seasonal affective disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, insomnia, and numerous other disorders. I would be happy to send interested readers a copy of the paper along with a 32-page bibliography on the uses of acupuncture in psychiatry.