What is the neurological basis for Acupuncture pain relieving effects?

Acupuncture has been known foremost for it’s pain relieving effects but it was not known how acupuncture achieves these effects.  In the 1970’s it was believed that acupuncture played a role in the Gate Theory of Pain.  Later on, it was shown that acupuncture point stimulation with needles and electricity increased the production of endorphins/enkelphins and other pain relieving chemicals.  But it was not known what happens in the brain when acupuncture is performed.  In the last 5-7 years various researchers have been using fMRI scans to see what is happening in the brain when acupuncture is performed.  Functional MRI is a type of brain scan that shows before and after changes in brain activity.   Froim this research it was shown that acupuncture helps modulate 2 key brain structures involved in pain modulation:cingular and thalamus.  fMRI scans show there is a clear reduction in signals for these 2 brain structure and this correlates with pain reduction.  It is this type of objective data that has piqued the interest of the USA military to look into alternative pain releiving options for their soldiers.  The USA military calls it “Battlefield Acupuncture” and for the last 3 years it has been a wonderful adjunct to conventional medicine to relieve a variety of chronic ailments.

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About Aroop Banerji N.D., L.Ac

Aroop Banerji N.D.., L.Ac is a naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist. He obtained his bachelor science in Environmental Toxicology from the University of California – Davis. He pursued doctoral education in Naturopathic Medicine and graduate level training in Chinese Medicine at Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington. He specializes in using dietary supplements, diet therapies, herbal medicines, and acupuncture for chronic health complaints.
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