Mapping The Effects Of Acupuncture On The Brain

Important recent research about the effects of acupuncture on the brain may provide an understanding of the complex mechanisms of acupuncture and could lead to a wider acceptability of the treatment in conventional health care. The study, by researchers at the University of York and the Hull York Medical School published in Brain Research, indicates that acupuncture has a significant effect on specific neural structures. When a patient receives acupuncture treatment, a sensation called deqi can be obtained; scientific analysis shows that this deactivates areas within the brain that are associated with the processing of pain. “These results provide objective scientific evidence that acupuncture has specific effects within the brain which hopefully will lead to a better understanding of how acupuncture works,” says Hugh MacPherson, M.D., of the Complementary Medicine Research Group in the University’s Department of Health Sciences. Neuroscientist Aziz Asghar, M.D., of the York Neuroimaging Center and the Hull York Medical School, adds, “The results are fascinating. Whether such brain deactivations constitute a mechanism which underlies or contributes to the therapeutic effect of acupuncture is an intriguing possibility.” Recent studies in the US have also shown that acupuncture affects the brain’s ability to regulate pain. Acupuncture increases the binding availability of mu-opioid receptors (MOR) in regions of the brain that process pain signals. Opioid painkiller medications, such as morphine, are believed to work by binding to these opioid brain and spinal cord receptors. The increased binding availability of these receptors stimulated by acupuncture is associated with reductions in pain. For information about Acupuncture & Massage College’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs ask for Joe Calareso, Admissions Director, at (305) 595-9500. … Read More

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