New study maps the effects of acupuncture on the brain

Feb 04, 2010

Important new 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.

The study, by researchers at the University of York and the Hull York Medical School published in Brain Research, indicates that 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.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Dr. Hugh Macpherson, from the University of York, discusses new research into the effects of acupuncture on the brain published in Brain Research. Credit: University of York

Dr Hugh MacPherson, of the Complementary Medicine Research Group in the University's Department of Health Sciences, says: "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."

Neuroscientist Dr Aziz Asghar, of the York Centre and the Hull York Medical School, adds: "The results are fascinating. Whether such deactivations constitute a mechanism which underlies or contributes to the therapeutic effect of acupuncture is an intriguing possibility which requires further research."

Last summer, following research conducted in York, acupuncture was recommended for the first time by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) as a treatment option for NHS patients with . NICE guidelines now state that GPs should 'consider offering a course of acupuncture comprising a maximum of 10 sessions over a period of up to 12 weeks' for patients with this common condition.

Current clinical trials at the University of York are investigating the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of acupuncture for (IBS) and for depression. Recent studies in the US have also shown that acupuncture can be an effective treatment for migraines and osteoarthritis of the knee.

The York team believe that the new research could help to clear the way for acupuncture to be more broadly accepted as a treatment option on the NHS for a number of medical conditions.

Explore further: Cannabis-based medicine to be tested as child epilepsy therapy

More information: The paper 'Acupuncture needling sensation: The neural correlates of deqi using fMRI', Asghar, A.U.R., et al is available at dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2009.12.019

Provided by University of York

5 /5 (4 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Acupuncture may cool hot flashes

Sep 25, 2006

Researchers at Stanford University are planning further investigation to see if acupuncture can cool the hot flashes of menopausal women.

Acupuncture Reduces Pain, Need for Opioids after Surgery

Oct 17, 2007

Using acupuncture before and during surgery significantly reduces the level of pain and the amount of potent painkillers needed by patients after the surgery is over, according to Duke University Medical Center anesthesiologists ...

Acupuncture eases chronic low back pain in SPINE trial

May 11, 2009

Acupuncture can help people with chronic low back pain feel less bothered by their symptoms and function better in their daily activities, according to the largest randomized trial of its kind, published in the May 11, 2009 ...

Recommended for you

'Microlesions' in epilepsy discovered by novel technique

Dec 16, 2014

Using an innovative technique combining genetic analysis and mathematical modeling with some basic sleuthing, researchers have identified previously undescribed microlesions in brain tissue from epileptic ...

Thumbs-up for mind-controlled robotic arm (w/ Video)

Dec 16, 2014

A paralysed woman who controlled a robotic arm using just her thoughts has taken another step towards restoring her natural movements by controlling the arm with a range of complex hand movements.

The sense of smell uses fast dynamics to encode odors

Dec 16, 2014

Neuroscientists from the John B. Pierce Laboratory and Yale School of Medicine have discovered that mice can detect minute differences in the temporal dynamics of the olfactory system, according to research ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.