For many westerners, the ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture is a “voodoo” science that they say is “all in your head”. Well it turns out that’s true.
A new study (November 2010) involving brain scans suggest that placing the blunt, hair-like, flexible needles in precise locations in your body changes the way the brain’s neurons process pain.
According to the RSNA (Radiological Society of North America):
“acupuncture reduces activation in several brain areas involved in the perception and processing of pain and affects incoming pain signals to the brain.”
MRI scans were performed on the brains of 18 subjects while a pain stimulus was attached to their left ankle. The pain stimulus was the same for all patients. Acupuncture needles were then places in areas that would alleviate this type of pain, and the scan was repeated. The images were then compared.
The subjects reported a significant decrease in the perception of the pain.
“Activation of brain areas involved in pain perception were significantly reduced or modulated under acupuncture,” Dr. Theysohn, lead researcher, said, …”our finding support that acupuncture can relieve pain.”
It makes sense that if it can act on the pain receptors in the brain, it may also act on other receptors responsible for many other illnesses like depression, anxiety, etc……maybe even on the autonomic systems like blood pressure.
If you or someone you know is experiencing chronic pain, why not give acupuncture a try? This is not a substitute for medical care but, acupuncture can be a useful tool in complimenting conventional medical treatment, and it is completely painless. (despite what it looks like)
Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years and has helped millions of people. It even helps animals. (And I don’t think Fido knows what a placebo is)
As I wrote in my acupuncture experience, it was extremely helpful for my chemo nausea, another brain response, and I can’t tell you how many people told me “it’s just in your head”.
Well, now I can tell them… yeah, it is.