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Acupuncture Science

Acupuncture Point "Supreme Rushing" improves blood flow

A new study finds that acupuncture affects sympathetic nervous system tone and increases peripheral blood flow. Researchers measured the physiologic effects of applying acupuncture to acupoint LV3 (Taichong). LV3 is located on the dorsum of the foot in the depression distal to the junction to the first and second metatarsal bones.

The scientists created a study to measure the exact effects of needling a single acupuncture point on radial artery hemodynamics. Using high-resolution ultrasound with automated echo-tracking, the researchers discovered that applying acupuncture to LV3 causes an initial decrease in radial artery blood flow volume during the acupuncture treatment. Next, the radial artery blood flow volume significantly increases after completion of the acupuncture needling.

The researchers also noted that acupuncture decreases systolic blood pressure following acupuncture treatments. Heart rate significantly decreased during acupuncture and returned to baseline approximately three minutes following the treatments.

Hemodynamic Measurements
During the study, acupuncture was applied by a licensed acupuncturist using disposable stainless steel needles (Seirin Co Ltd, 40mm length, 0.16mm diameter). Manual stimulation was applied for 18 seconds using bidirectional 90 degree rotation. Acupuncture was applied to LV3 bilaterally.

Clinical Highlights
Liver 3 (LV3, Taichong, Great Rushing) is a Shu-Stream, Earth and Source point. LV3 pacifies the Liver, regulates the Blood and opens the channels. Clinically this point is commonly used for the treatment of headaches, vertigo, insomnia, irregular menstruation and uterine bleeding, pain of the extremities and joints, eye disorders, rib pain, retention of urine and enuresis.

Other Hemodynamic Research
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, concluded, “Recent evidence shows that stimulation of different points on the body causes distinct responses in hemodynamic, fMRI and central neural electrophysiological responses.” In another study, researchers demonstrated that acupuncture benefits patients with glaucoma. Acupuncture was shown to improve intraocular pressure (IOP) and retrobulbar circulation. The researchers note that this study measured the ability of acupuncture to cause improvements in eye hemodynamics.

Arai, Hiroyuki, Yoshifumi Saijo, Tomoyuki Yambe, and Nobuo Yaegashi. "RADIAL ARTERY HEMODYNAMIC CHANGES RELATED TO ACUPUNCTURE."

Shin Takayama, Takashi Seki, Toru Nakazawa, Naoko Aizawa, Seri Takahashi, Masashi Watanabe, Masayuki Izumi, Soichiro Kaneko, Tetsuharu Kamiya, Ayane Matsuda, Akiko Kikuchi, Tomoyuki Yambe, Makoto Yoshizawa, Shin-ichi Nitta, and Nobuo Yaegashi. Short-Term Effects of Acupuncture on Open-Angle Glaucoma in Retrobulbar Circulation: Additional Therapy to Standard Medication. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 157090, 6 pages.

Point specificity in acupuncture. Chinese Medicine 2012, 7:4 doi:10.1186/1749-8546-7-4. Emma M Choi, Fang Jiang, John C Longhurst. University of California, Irvine.

Novel Model for Acupuncture based on Sound Waves

From The Acupuncture News Blog

“Lately I have noticed my usual answers to the common questions "how does acupuncture work? I mean, what do the needles really do?" have not been working for the folks who want an explanation in 20 words or less. Although I provide excellent literature on theory, a few months ago I jettisoned my TCM explanation and shortened it to "the needle sensation helps direct the release and flow of endorphins to stimulate the body's self-healing processes." This seems to satisfy those who find things like Qi and meridians either too esoteric or too hippy dippy to accept as viable healthcare.

“As it turns out, my simple explanation has evidence-based research to back it. The Columbia University electrical engineering department and University of Hong Kong medical faculty of the collaborated on a study published in the June 2011 issue of The European Journal of Physiology to explain how acupuncture works. Needling acupuncture points sends slow-moving acoustic waves into the muscles. This triggers a flow of calcium that interacts with white blood cells and produces endorphins which can relieve pain and nausea throughout the body.

“Accuracy and point selection are important. Correct placement generates a 6-8 centimeter wave whereas incorrect placement up to 1 centimeter generates only a 3-4 centimeter wave. This finding may help explain why sham acupuncture can have a therapeutic effect even if delivered via toothpick (as I have been saying as nauseam!). “

This is the abstract:

This article presents a novel model of acupuncture physiology based on cellular calcium activation by an acoustic shear wave (ASW) generated by the mechanical movement of the needle.

An acupuncture needle was driven by a piezoelectric transducer at 100 Hz or below, and the ASW in human calf was imaged by magnetic resonance elastography. At the cell level, the ASW activated intracellular Ca2+ transients and oscillations in fibroblasts and endothelial, ventricular myocytes and neuronal PC-12 cells along with frequency–amplitude tuning and memory capabilities.

Monitoring in vivo mammalian experiments with ASW, enhancement of endorphin in blood plasma and blocking by Gd3+ were observed; and increased Ca2+ fluorescence in mouse hind leg muscle was imaged by two-photon microscopy.

In contrast with traditional acupuncture models, the signal source is derived from the total acoustic energy. ASW signaling makes use of the anisotropy of elasticity of tissues as its waveguides for transmission and that cell activation is not based on the nervous system.