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Modern Research & Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been employed as a health care modality for over 5,000 years. Modern science has begun to understand the secrets of this ancient medicine with the support of new studies conducted by leading scientists, hospitals and medical research facilities from all over the world. Today, acupuncture is receiving wide acceptance as a respected, valid and effective form of health care.

acupuncture modern research


Current theories on the mechanism of acupuncture


1)Signal Transduction to and within the cell

Downstream effects of the mechanical signal generated by acupuncture needle manipulation potentially effect local release of growth factors, cytokines, vasoactive substances, degradative enzymes, and structural matrix elements. 7

2)Brain Plasticity and Peripheral Nerve conduction

Acupuncture reduced Carpal Tunnel Syndrome patient-reported symptoms and showed improvements in both peripheral and brain neurophysiology.8

3)Neurotransmitter Theory

Acupuncture affects higher brain areas, stimulating the secretion of beta-endorphins and enkephalins in the brain and spinal cord. The release of neurotransmitters influences the immune system and the antinociceptive system.1,2,3

4) Blood Chemistry Theory

Acupuncture affects the blood concentrations of triglycerides, cholesterol, and phospholipids, suggesting acupuncture can both raise and diminish peripheral blood components, thereby regulating the body toward homeostasis.3

5) Autonomic Nervous System Theory

Acupuncture stimulates the release of norepinephrine, acetylcholine and several types of opioids, affecting changes in their turnover rate, normalizing the autonomic nervous system and reducing pain.4, 5

6) Vascular-interstitial Theory

Acupuncture affects the electrical system of the body by creating or enhancing closed-circuit transport in tissues. This facilitates healing by allowing the transfer of material and electrical energy between normal and injured tissues.5

7) Gate Control Theory

Acupuncture activates non-nociceptive receptors that inhibit the transmission of nociceptive signals in the dorsal horn, “gating out” painful stimuli.6




  1. McDonald, John Leslie et al.
  2. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology , Volume 116 , Issue 6 , 497 – 505
  3. Neuro-acupuncture, “Scientific evidence of acupuncture revealed”, Cho, ZH., et al., 2001.v
  4. Acupuncture – A scientific appraisal, Ernst, E., White, A., 1999, p. 74.
  5. Acupuncture Energetics, “A Clinical Approach for Physicians”, Helms, Dr. J., 1997, pgs 41-42, 66.
  6. Anatomy of Neuro-Anatomical Acupuncture, Volume 1, Wong, Dr. J., 1999, p. 34.
  7. Mechanical signaling through connective tissue: a mechanism for the therapeutic effect of acupuncture HELENE M. LANGEVIN,1 DAVID L. CHURCHILL, AND MARILYN J. CIPOLLA Department of Neurology, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont 05405, USA (Vol. 15 October 2001 The FASEB Journal) (
  8. “Rewiring the primary somatosensory cortex in carpal tunnel syndrome with acupuncture” Yumi Maeda,1,2 Hyungjun Kim,1,3 Norman Kettner,2 Jieun Kim,1,3 Stephen Cina,1 Cristina Malatesta,4 Jessica Gerber,1 Claire McManus,4 Rebecca Ong-Sutherland,4 Pia Mezzacappa,1 Alexandra Libby,1 Ishtiaq Mawla,1 Leslie R. Morse,5 Ted J. Kaptchuk,6 Joseph Audette,7 and Vitaly Napadow1,2 Brain. 2017 Apr; 140(4): 914–927.Published online 2017 Mar 2. doi: 10.1093/brain/awx015) (
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