Acupuncture Boosts Effects of Painkillers, Natural or Prescription
Researchers used PET scans to observe the brains of 20 women with fibromyalgia while they received acupuncture treatments. All 20 women reported experiencing muscle and nerve pain at least 50% of the time before their treatments. The PET scans, which focused on regions of the brain that process and reduce pain signals, showed an increase in the receptivity and number of brain cells to which opioid painkillers bind to reduce a person's pain.
The study may even support the controversial earlier finding that sham acupuncture works as well as real acupuncture to reduce pain, but that the two work in to reduce pain in different ways. In that experiment, patients seemed to gain considerable pain relief merely by a procedure that inserted needles into the body randomly, as oppose to following the paths of energy meridians that guide needle placement in acupuncture.
The random sinking of needles through the skin may prompt the body to increase its production of pain-dampening endorphins and enkephalins, Harris surmised. True acupuncture may work differently: Its painkilling effect may come not from boosting the supply of circulating natural analgesics, but by improving the ability of those chemicals to dock at a brain cell and exert their painkilling effects.
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Content by Diana E. Lee.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.