Student Theses, Dissertations and Capstones

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Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Dentistry

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College of Dental Medicine

Publication Date / Copyright Date



Nova Southeastern University


A thesis submitted to the College of Dental Medicine of Nova Southeastern University of the degree of Master of Science in Dentistry.

Introduction: Low-intensity lasers are one type of alternative therapeutic modality that are being used for their health-promoting effects. To date, no study has directly linked the benefits of this therapy when applied to known auricular acupuncture points to an objective biologic measurement, such as the stress hormone cortisol. The purpose of this pilot study was primarily to measure the concentration of cortisol in saliva in healthy adult subjects before and after laser therapy to known auricular acupuncture points and secondarily to survey the level of anxiety using the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and perceived stress using a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS). Methods: 25 (20 experimental and 5 control) healthy adult subjects were recruited. In this double blind design, participants were randomly divided into either an experimental group in which active laser therapy was administered or a placebo group in which the inactive probe was used. All participants completed a pre-VAS survey and a BAI survey. Baseline cortisol measurements were ascertained by participants chewing on a Salivette brand cotton roll. Bilateral laser auricular acupuncture was performed using the Asah 301 Unilaser to auricular acupuncture points (Shenmen, Adrenal, Addiction, Appetite, and Lung) for 27 seconds each. Saliva was collected immediately after treatment, ten minutes after and then twenty minutes after treatment. A post-VAS survey was then completed. Saliva was collected, frozen and stored and then later thawed and centrifuged. A cortisol specific ELISA was conducted to determine the cortisol concentration found in each participant's saliva at each time point. VAS and BAI survey were analyzed. Results: A dependent two-tailed t-test found that there was a statistically significant difference in cortisol concentration (p < 0.0001) between baseline and twenty minutes after treatment for the experimental group whereas there was no statistically significant difference (p = 0.79) for the placebo group. This was confirmed by the Friedman Test (p = 0.000) and the Wilcoxon Matched Pair Sign Rank Test (p = 0.003). No correlations were found between the VAS, BAI, and cortisol concentrations using the Pearson correlation coefficient. Conclusions: This pilot study demonstrated that cortisol concentration can be decreased by laser auricular acupuncture over the time period studied.




Health and environmental sciences, Acupuncture, Cortisol, Lasers, Stress



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