Science Gets Closer to Why Acupuncture Works
December 6, 2010
under Medical Treatments
A University of Rochester (N.Y.) Medical Center research team announced in May that they had found a specific molecule that plays a part in creating the pain-reducing effects of acupuncture in the body. Building on that knowledge, scientists were able to triple the beneficial effects of acupuncture in mice.
Acupuncture has been a mainstay of medical treatment in certain parts of the world for 4,000 years, but because it has not been understood completely, many people have remained skeptical.
Now, there’s a growing body of scientific evidence showing that in the central nervous system, acupuncture creates signals that cause the brain to churn out natural pain-killing endorphins.
The medical center said researchers focused on adenosine, a natural compound known for its role in regulating sleep, for its beneficial effects on the heart, and for its anti-inflammatory properties. But adenosine also acts as a natural painkiller, becoming active in the skin after an injury to inhibit nerve signals and ease pain in a way similar to lidocaine.
Once scientists recognized adenosine’s role, the team explored the effects of a cancer drug called deoxycoformycin, which makes it harder for the tissue to remove adenosine. The compound boosted the effects of acupuncture treatment dramatically, nearly tripling the accumulation of adenosine in the muscles and more than tripling the length of time the treatment was effective.
Some people may be reluctant to use acupuncture, which is their choice, of course. But I think, and a number of our doctors agree, that this development can only offer more choices for clients to consider in the future. It’s certainly something to ask about when you see a treatment provider.
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