Acupuncture alters brain activities
Acupuncture is originated from China thousands years ago and has been used since. It is now more popular than ever in all over the world. However mechanisms of acupuncture on the central nervous system (CNS) still remain unclear.
New techniques are invented to study brain including Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Positron Emission Tomography (PET), Electroencephalography (EEG), and Evoked Potentials (EP). fMRI can used to measure the brain's neuronal activity and the resulting regional changes in metabolism and circulation.PET can be used to measure the brain's regional blood flow, oxygen, or glucose metabolism and reflect the activity in the according brain region. EEG is used to measure brain activity. EP measurement reflects the number of cortical cells activated and the intensity of the stimulus. These techniques are applied to acupuncture research. Using these technologies, researchers are able to examine the acupuncture process in the brain noninvasively and provide scientific evidences how acupuncture works.
Using biochemical approach, researchers found that acupuncture analgesia might be induced by the release of endogenous opioids, as well as by modulating other signalling systems such as the adrenergic system/the serotonin signalling system/the N-methyl-D-aspartic acid/AMPA/kainate signalling system etc. Recently by using neuroimaging techniques researchers found that acupuncture modulates brain networks such as brain resting state networks; acupuncture modulates a wide network of brain areas including cortical, subcortical/limbic, and brainstem areas; acupuncture can enhance functional connectivity among different brain regions.
Guo L et al used a new technique magnetic stimulation at acupuncture point to provide a new method for studying the theory of acupuncture. They stimulated acupuncture points PC6 and recorded electroencephalograph (EEG) signals. The signals were analysed and compared between quiescent and stimulated states. They found that the network connection was increased after PC6 stimulation. Also the efficiency of information transmission was improved.
Acupuncture altered brain activity and releases low back pain
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a new technology that is used to study brain. Pain stimulus could induce extensive activations in the limbic system [anterior cingulated cortex (ACC), periaqueductal gray (PAG), prefrontal cortex] and somatosensory system (thalamus, primary somatosensory cortex (S1), secondary somatosensory cortex (S2), posterior parietal cortices, insula, supplementary motor area, striatum, and cerebellum) areas as well as the pain matrix (S1, S2, insular, frontal lobe and parietal lobe). The pain matrix showed a strong relationship with pain, which plays an important role in the conduction and communication of pain. This can be seen changes on fMRI. Low back pain (LBP) is one of the most common clinical syndromes and affects 80–85% of people at some point in their life. Most LBP is nonspecific which does not have a definitive cause.
In a recent study, an experimental acute LBP model and fMRI was used to study the neural mechanisms of acupuncture analgesia. All LBP subjects first underwent two resting state fMRI scans at baseline and during a painful episode and then underwent two additional fMRI scans, once during acupuncture stimulation (ACUP) and once during sham stimulation, at the BL40 acupoint. They found that acupuncture induced more deactivations and fewer activations in the brain. Acupuncture can alter brain activity and this contributes to mechanism of analgesia of acupuncture to LBP.
Acupuncture response is not associated with needle sensations
Needles stimulate nerves at acupuncture points and have been used to treat illness. During the application of needling, people are experiencing different sensations. There was a study that investigated the sensations of the transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation over acupuncture points (acu-TENS) and the changes of the sensations related to changes in autonomic nervous system activity. There were 36 healthy subjects who were in three groups experimental group which was given acu-TENS on right LI4 and LI11points, control group which was given acu-TENS to bilateral kneecaps, or placebo group (sham acupuncture on right LI4 and LI11 points). There were significantly physiological changes in experimental group and control groups which were given acupuncture at different sites. There was no physiological change in placebo group which was not given active acupuncture. There was significant difference between the groups. There was no association between sensation intensity and physiological responses in any groups. From this study, we can see that even if people experience different sensation during acupuncture, they all have physiological responses to the needling.
Why different people have different sensitivity to acupuncture?
Acupuncture is used to treat variety of conditions worldwide. This is a safe intervention and effective treatment for many people, but different people have different sensitivity to acupuncture. Everyone is different, but why is that? Researchers found a scientific explanation for this. Li LM et al in China studied effect of acupuncture stimulation of Zusanli (ST36) on cerebral regional difference in healthy subjects with different acupuncture analgesia sensitivity using MRI techniques. There are 45 healthy subjects with different sensitivity to acupuncture. These people were divided into three groups: insensitive group, normal group and sensitive group. The pressure pain threshold (PPT) of the Zusanli ST 36 region before and after acupuncture stimulation at the point was assessed. And two weeks later after acupuncture stimulation, resting-state fMRI images were obtained using MRI scan to assess the cerebral regional homogeneity (ReHo). They found that there was significant increase in PPT levels in the normal and sensitive groups after acupuncture at ST36 point, while there was no change in insensitive group. In normal group there was a significant increase of ReHo in the regions including left brainstem, the right cerebellum posterior, right parahippocampa gyrus, right fusiform gyrus, left angular gyrus, temperal lobe and the left frontal lobe; and a significant decrease of ReHo in the regions including the occipital lobes and the right superior temperal gyrus after acupuncture at ST36. In sensitive group a marked increase of ReHo was found in the regions includig the left brainstem, bilateral cerebellum posterior lobes, left inferior temporal gyrus, basal ganglia, the left insular lobe, anterior cingutate, frontal lobe, inferior parietal lobule and the right supplementary motor area; decrease ReHo was found in the regions including the bilateral occipital lobes, fusiform gyrus, posterior central gyrus, the right posterior cingutate, the left temporal lobe and the left paracentral lobule. While in the insensitive group, only a significant decrease of ReHo was found in the regions including the left fusiform gyrus, left inferior temporal gyrus, bilateral postcentral gyrus, and left anterior central gyrus. So brain constitution associated needling sensation may be an important factor for acupuncture analgesia effect. Brain react differently in different people which is responsible for different sensitivity to acupuncture.
Acupuncture increases oxygen concentration and blood flow
Acupuncture is used to various conditions such as fertility, low back pain and other pain conditions, facial treatment etc, however how acupuncture works is still not completely clear. Recent research has suggested many theories to support the application of acupuncture. Acupuncture is suggested to increase oxygen concentration and blood flow in the brain. For example, a study has shown that small increases in oxygen saturation and a significant increase in mean blood flow velocity during acupuncture measured simultaneously at different depths within the right middle cerebral artery. Acupuncture is also suggested to increase oxygen concentration and blood flow in the muscles. For example, acupuncture at trapezius muscle increased in oxygen concentration and blood volume in the muscle. These studies provided a preliminary research data and pointed a direction for future wider studies to provide a mechanism of acupuncture application for many conditions.
Acupuncture points, do you know anything about them?
When you want to have acupuncture treatment, you see an acupuncturist. Your acupuncturist will put needles into your skin. However the treatment is not just put needles anywhere in your skin. The points for needling chosen are important to achieve best treatment results. There are 365 essential acupuncture points in the body and many more. Which acupuncture points to choose and right for your? Many people heard of tongue and pulse diagnosis. Do you know acupuncture points can contribute to the diagnosis and treatment? Acupuncture point is the essential factor in acupuncture diagnosis and treatment. There are pathological changes of the corresponding acupuncture points for particular conditions. For example, Diji (SP 8) is the most important and commonly used point for the treatment of dysmenorrhea. According to the theory of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), SP 8 is the Xi-cleft point of the Spleen meridian of Foot Taiyin, where the meridian qi accumulates deeply and is suitable for treating acute pain and blood disease. Primary dysmenorrhea (period pain), a medical condition of cramping pain in the lower abdomen occurring before and during menstruation, is acute pain and blood disease in TCM. Tenderness in SP8 can be detected in patients with period pain. Pain threshold at this point is significantly lower. And this point is often used to treat period pain.
Acupuncture point’s electrophysiological property
Acupuncture points are the sites where acupuncture needles are placed in the acupuncture treatments. What is the electrophysiological property in these points? Recently a research studied power spectral differences of electrophysiological signals at acupuncture points and non-acupuncture points. In this study, 10 acupoints and non-acupuncture points were chosen to see if there are electrical differences between acupoints and non-acupoints. 4 adjacent non-acupoints around each acupoint were chosen as a control group in 10 healthy subjects. The results show that acupoint electrophysiological signals have higher Power Spectral Density and power than nearby non-acupoint areas. The maximum power difference between acupoints and non-acupoint is 61.5% appeared in LI 11. From physiological view, the percentage is high enough to show the electrical specificity of acupoint, which is strong proof of Traditional Chinese Medicine theory and one of the bases for further research. As acupoint electrophysiological signals are driven by internal organs, they can reflect the health condition of internal organs effectively, and so analysis of acupoint electrophysiological signals may be a new way to diagnose organ diseases instead of with the experience of doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Shi Y et al Evid Based Complement Alternat Med (2015) 2015:210120. doi: 10.1155/2015/210120. Epub 2015 Jun 16.
Guo L et al Biomed Mater Eng 2014 24 1063-9 doi:10.3233/BME-130904
Yu DT et al Acupunct Med 2013 Nov 1.doi10.1136/acupmed-2013-010428
Li LM et al Zhen Ci Yan Jiu (2013) 38:306-13
Litscher G et al (1980) Neurol Res 20 Suppl 1:S28-32
Scheffold BE et al Evid Based Complement Alternat Med (2015) 2015:641742
Chen S et al (2015) Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2015:158012. doi: 10.1155/2015/158012. Epub 2015 Jun 16.
Zhou Q Acupunct Electrother Res (2014) 39:169-81
Welcome to my blog
Acupuncture specialist for Fertility, Facial rejuvenation, Pain relief.
Based at Kensington Central London.Qualified as a medical doctor in Western medicine over 20 years ago in China with a Medical degree from Beijing, China and a PhD degree from the UK. Many year research and clinical experiences
Doctor who is passionate about acupuncture
I love what I do, I am good at it and I am always there for my patients. If you come and see me, you will know why I am standing out.
This blog is to introduce latest development and research of acupuncture and offer a chance of awareness of more treatment options for your condition. The blog is for information purpose only.
- My specialised areas include fertility for women and men, facial rejuvenation, acne, various pain conditions, chronic fatigue and hormone regulation with acupuncture treatment.
Practice contact for appointments and address
Kensington: for appointments (Fridays, Saturdays, Mondays and Thursdays) at Anamaya center Kensington please call at 02030110355 or email at email@example.com
Address: 1 Adam and Eve Mews, Kensington, London W8 6UG
2 min walk from High Street Kensington underground stationMy background: I became a qualified medical doctor in Western medicine 20 years ago in China and was well trained in Western medicine together with Chinese medicine in the best Medical University in Beijing, China. Also I was trained with Dr Zheren Xuan--famous orthopedics expert and founder of soft tissue surgery in China. I am dedicated to treat patients with acupuncture and am recognized as one of the world leading acupuncture specialists.
I obtained a PhD degree in the University of Leeds in the UK.
I had post doctoral training and worked as a senior researcher in St George's hospital, London, UK.
I had frequently presented my research findings in the top international conferences in the field.
I have many publications including ebooks and articles.
I have many year clinical experiences. Over the years of practicing, I have developed unique treatment approaches for infertility, skin aging, acne, vulvodynia, neck pain, headache, migraine, shoulder pain, back pain and hot flushes etc to achieve best treatment results. My devotion and skills are highly praised by my patients.
- My books--Know your ovary to get pregnant
- ----------------Get pregnant fast naturally
- ----------------Facial Aging, Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture
- ----------------Know your fallopian tubes and uterus to get pregnant
- ----------------Vulvodynia, is vulval pain in your mind?
- ----------------Know sperm to boost male fertility
- ---------------Acne treatment with acupuncture