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Brain Res Bull. 2011 Nov 25;86(5-6):428-34. doi: 10.1016/j.brainresbull.2011.08.013. Epub 2011 Aug 27.

Low frequency electroacupuncture selectively decreases voluntarily ethanol intake in rats.

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Department of Anesthesiology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Jersey Medical School, 185 South Orange Avenue, Newark, NJ 07103, USA.


Although there is increasing clinical acceptance of acupuncture and electroacupuncture (EA) as a treatment of substance abuse-related disorders, our understanding of this treatment remains incomplete. Previous clinical and pre-clinical studies have shown that acupuncture and EA are effective in reducing ethanol consumption. Recent studies have shown that Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats under an intermittent-access two-bottle choice drinking procedure (IE procedure) voluntarily drank high amounts of ethanol. However, an effect of EA on ethanol consumption of the SD rats under this drinking procedure has not been demonstrated. In the present study, we demonstrated that SD rats escalated their ethanol intake and subsequently developed ethanol dependence under the IE procedure. A single low (2 Hz), but not high frequency (100 Hz) EA treatment applied at the bilateral acupoint Zusanli (ST36), but not at the tail reduced voluntary intake of, and preference for ethanol, but not sucrose. Furthermore, repeated EA treatments decreased the intake of and preference for ethanol, without resulting in a rebound increase in ethanol intake when the EA treatments were terminated. These observations indicate that EA may be a useful treatment for alcohol abuse.

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