Traditional Chinese medicine (tongue acupuncture) in children with drooling problems

Pediatr Neurol. 2001 Jul;25(1):47-54. doi: 10.1016/s0887-8994(01)00292-2.


Tongue acupuncture is an innovative technique in traditional Chinese medicine. We have demonstrated that specific tongue acupoints are related to various functional domains. This study aimed to assess the efficacy of tongue acupuncture in children with neurologic disability who had severe drooling problems. We conducted an intent-to-treat study in a cohort of 10 children. A continuous course of tongue acupuncture was performed daily to five acupoints in the tongue for a total of 30 sessions. Standardized outcome measures of drooling were evaluated by a blinded assessor to study the efficacy at baseline and after a course of treatment. Statistically significant improvement was noted in the following outcome measures: (1) mean visual analog scale (VAS) decreased from 6.6 (pre-TAC) to 4.67 (post-TAC) (P = 0.002); (2) mean drooling quotient (DQ) decreased from 14.016% (pre-TAC) to 8.335% (post-TAC) (P = 0.0078); and (3) mean drooling score (DS) decreased from 7.4 (pre-TAC) to 4.4 (post-TAC) (P = 0.002). This study demonstrated the efficacy of tongue acupuncture as an adjunctive or alternative treatment for patients with drooling problems and can be integrated as part of the oromotor stimulation program, drooling program, and behavioral modification program before subjecting the patient to invasive surgical procedures on the salivary glands.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Developmental Disabilities / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sialorrhea / etiology
  • Sialorrhea / therapy*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Tongue*
  • Treatment Outcome