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Study Shows How the Brain Responds to Acupuncture
By: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM

A amall July 2018 study investigated how the brain responds to acupuncture treatment. An article regarding the study "Cerebral activation effects of acupuncture at Yanglinquan (GB34) point acquired using resting-state fMRI" appeared in the publication Computerized Medical Imaging & Graphics.

The researchers performed an in-depth analysis of the brain before and after acupuncture treatment. They analyzed the activity levels of the different brain regions, called regional homogeneity (ReHo). An ReHo analysis provides information about the functionality of multiple regions of the brain. Results appear in a 3-dimensional computer model.

The study involved ten physically-fit young adults between the ages of 20 and 34. Each participant underwent an acupuncture treatment using only the GB34 point. To evaluate the effects on the brain, researchers used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) before and after the needling.

The MRI showed that extensive areas of the brain were stimulated by the acupuncture, including areas responsible for cognition, motor functions, and the limbic system. Some areas of the brain showed increased activity and some showed reduced activity. The control group, which did not receive acupuncture didn’t show these changes in brain activity.

The researchers concluded that the central mechanism of acupuncture at the GB34 point is a result of all the changes and interactions between the brain’s regions.

Source: Liu, L., Chen, S., Zeng, D., Li, H., Shi, C., & Zhang, L. (2018). Cerebral activation effects of acupuncture at Yanglinquan(GB34) point acquired using resting-state fMRI. Computerized Medical Imaging and Graphics, 67, 55-58. doi:10.1016/j.compmedimag.2018.04.004   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29800886

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About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.