Acupuncture modulates the limbic system, which is the academic way to say acupuncture is a tool to use for managing stress.
Previously we posted an article on the Limbic System, to give you context about what the limbic system does and how acupuncture impacts it indirectly.
Subsequently we found a study supporting this, entitled Effects of Electroacupuncture versus Manual Acupuncture on the Human Brain as Measured by fMRI, published in the academic journal Human Brain Mapping in 2005. You can read the abstract on PubMed here.
This study was funded by the NIH and conducted by Harvard University at Massachusetts General Hospital. Researchers used fMRI’s on 13 healthy participants. Brain activity was measured at just one acupuncture point, ST 36, using four mechanisms:
1. manual acupuncture
2. electrical stimulation at 2 Hz
3. electrical stimulation at 100 Hz
4. placebo acupuncture creating a tactile sensation as a control
Please note: electroacupuncture utilizes a machine that attaches to the needles to amplify their effect. ST 36 is a major point touching many aspects of a body’s general health. For those of you who receive acupuncture treatment, it’s the one below the knee and away from the center bone.
In this study, the researchers found that electroacupuncture increased what amounts to desirable effects, in specific regions of the brain. This supported their hypothesis that “…the limbic system is central to acupuncture effects…”
This study is above average in the level of depth it assumes from the reader so here’s the takeaway: Acupuncture, manual or electro-, has a regulating effect on the limbic system by either increasing or decreasing hemodynamic signaling.
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