For many of the afflictions acupuncture can treat – allergies, back pain, headaches, the list goes on – reducing inflammation in the body is a primary reason acupuncture is successful. For decades now, doctors and medical researchers have been trying to learn what the biological mechanism is that allows acupuncture to reduce inflammation in the body.
In a study published in August of last year, it seems scientists got a little closer to the answer. Through inducing a system-wide inflammatory response in mice, the scientists found acupuncture signaling pathways could either reduce or increase the inflammation.
While they weren’t able to pinpoint the exact neurological or chemical pathways that allowed acupuncture to decrease inflammation in the body, they did pinpoint three important factors that influence the success of an acupuncture treatment. The findings move researchers closer to defining how exactly acupuncture works in the body and offer suggestions to medical professionals treating patients with systemic inflammation.
Through the study, researchers identified location, intensity and timing to be important factors in the efficacy of acupuncture treatments. So, where on the mice they administered acupuncture, how strong it was and when it was administered had significant effects on their health.
The researchers focused on two different types of cells to start mapping the neuroanatomy of acupuncture.
Their findings suggest acupuncture could be further integrated into Western medical settings, moving beyond nausea treatment for chemotherapy patients to sepsis treatment for patients in the intensive care unit or targeted therapy for gastrointestinal issues.
Sepsis is an extreme response to an infection, which causes intense inflammation throughout the body. It has gained more mainstream attention in the past year, because it can be a side effect of severe cases of COVID-19.
Acupuncture has been shown to reduce inflammation for a variety of conditions, including seasonal allergies and chronic pain. We don’t have to wait for neuroscientists to tease out the exact biological mechanisms before we take advantage of this life-improving medicine. If you or a loved one are suffering and you think acupuncture might be able to help, reach out to me today. I bet it can.