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Acupuncture for Inflammation

Can Acupuncture Heal Inflammation?

Even though Chinese acupuncture is widely regarded in Eastern medicine as a cure for many different ailments. In Western medicine, it isn’t considered as much of a “serious” healing modality. But evidence has shown that acupuncture can dramatically heal inflammation and directly affect certain physical mechanisms that can heal sepsis, a condition that is prevalent in hospital intensive care units, arising from infection and inflammation.  

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is a very serious condition that causes 250,000 deaths in the US each year. Sepsis is an inflammatory disorder that is developed after a serious infection. Author, Luis Ullboa, an immunologist at Rutgers says that “they die because of the inflammatory disorder they develop after the infection. So we hoped to study how to control the inflammatory disorder.” 

How Can Acupuncture Heal Inflammation?

In regular acupuncture treatments, needles are inserted at certain tender acupuncture points or trigger points. A massage may even be necessary before or after treatment. Nerves are stimulated as well as the body’s pituitary gland and cortisol is released which reduces inflammation and pain in the body. Acupuncture therapy also stimulates the vagus nerve which has direct correlation with pain relief and inflammation healing. Some studies have even shown that stimulating the vagus nerve has resulted in remission of rheumatoid arthritis in some patients. 

How Can Acupuncture Treat Sepsis?

The researchers who published the evidence in the journal, Nature Medicine, say that they already knew that acupuncture treats inflammation by stimulating the vagus nerve. To test the efficacy of acupuncture for sepsis, they tested electroacupuncture (a form of acupuncture that sends electrical currents through the nervous system) on a group of mice that had sepsis. The test resulted in the survival of half of the mice with sepsis. Because of this study, electroacupuncture has now been approved for use on humans for treating inflammation and pain. 

The research team was happy with their findings, but what they didn’t realize was that when they removed the adrenal glands from the mice, the electroacupuncture didn’t work as well. This discovery dashed hopes for using this treatment on humans because when afflicted with sepsis, adrenal function is reduced. Unless the patient had high functioning adrenal glands, it would not be as effective in those with weaker glands. However, if a chemical similar to dopamine was added in the form of a drug called fenoldopam, deaths were reduced by 40%.   

Because of their findings, these researchers concluded that acupuncture could be used as a treatment for other inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and Crohn’s disease. In addition to acupuncture, they discovered a drug that could also reduce sepsis deaths. 

Acupuncture is already a popular form of alternative medicine and is used to treat some very common conditions such as tendinitis, headaches, chronic pain, respiratory disorders, skin problems and digestion disorders. Many scientists are looking into how acupuncture can help those in emergency situations like sepsis and so far, there’s been some headway. Will acupuncture ever become completely integrated in Western medicine? If you’re experiencing excessive inflammation, why not visit an acupuncture clinic in San Diego or your local area. Acupuncturists are equipped with the knowledge of both Eastern and some Western medicine healing modalities and will be able to assess your condition and decide if acupuncture is right for you.


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