What do you know about the brain?
The brain is the central control organ in the body and is protected by the skull bones of the head. Though the brain function is not fully understood, it is known that it controls the activities of the body including processing, integrating and coordinating the information it receives from the sense organs and takes action accordingly, such as send signal to the body to react. Sensory nervous system is involved in receiving and processing sensory information, such as the skin is a sensory organ and senses touch, pressure, pain vibration and temperature. Motor system controls muscle function and body movement. Emotion and cognition are a part of the brain function. The brain is a big energy consumer and it receives 20% of total body oxygen and energy consumption and 25% of total body glucose utilization. The brain mostly uses glucose for energy, and deprivation of glucose causes loss of consciousness. Sleep can reduce brain oxygen and energy consumption and help restore brain energy supply.
Acupuncture has been accepted globally. Acupuncture stimulates the brain releasing endorphins which is essential in acupuncture analgesic effect.
Acupuncture altered brain activity and releases low back pain
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a new technology that is used to study brain. Pain stimulus could induce extensive activations in the limbic system [anterior cingulated cortex (ACC), periaqueductal gray (PAG), prefrontal cortex] and somatosensory system (thalamus, primary somatosensory cortex (S1), secondary somatosensory cortex (S2), posterior parietal cortices, insula, supplementary motor area, striatum, and cerebellum) areas as well as the pain matrix (S1, S2, insular, frontal lobe and parietal lobe). The pain matrix showed a strong relationship with pain, which plays an important role in the conduction and communication of pain. This can be seen changes on fMRI. Low back pain (LBP) is one of the most common clinical syndromes and affects 80–85% of people at some point in their life. Most LBP is nonspecific which does not have a definitive cause.
In a recent study, an experimental acute LBP model and fMRI was used to study the neural mechanisms of acupuncture analgesia. All LBP subjects first underwent two resting state fMRI scans at baseline and during a painful episode and then underwent two additional fMRI scans, once during acupuncture stimulation (ACUP) and once during sham stimulation, at the BL40 acupoint. They found that acupuncture induced more deactivations and fewer activations in the brain. Acupuncture can alter brain activity and this contributes to mechanism of analgesia of acupuncture to LBP.
Acupuncture altered brain network function
There was a study about acupuncture stimulating brain functional network. This study was based on sample entropy of electroencephalograph (EEG) under magnetic stimulation at PC6 acupoint which is on your forearm and near your wrist. Magnetic stimulation at acupuncture point is a new method for studying the theory of acupuncture. It helps to investigate brain network and understand how brain works. This study was trying to provide evidence for the mechanism of acupuncture which is a part of traditional Chinese medicine. The magnetic stimulation of PC6 acupoint was performed and EEG signals were recorded. By analysing the results they found the brain network topology was changed after acupuncture at PC6 acupoint, the connection of the network is increased, the efficiency of information transmission is improved and the small-world proper is strengthened through stimulation the PC6 acupoint.
Acupuncture at different acupoints may alter brain activities in different area.
Recent acupuncture research study the effect of acupuncture on brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Wang W et al used electro-acupuncture to stimulate the cerebral activated areas. They compared the altered activation areas of the acupuncture point LI4 on the right hand with some non acupuncture points on the face. There were 6 people in the LI4 group and 5 in the facial nonacupoint group. MRI ws performed before and after acupuncture. They found that activation or deactivation was found the multiple cerebral areas in both groups. In the LI4 group, activation was found in the areas including medline nuclear group thalamus, left supra marginal gyrus, left supra temporal gyrus, right precuneous lobe, bilateral temporal pole, left precentral gyrus and left cerebellum; deactivation areas include bilateral hippocampus, parahippocampal gyrus, amygdale body area, rostral side/audal side of ingulate gyrus, prefrontal lobe and occipital lobe as well as left infratemporal gyrus. In the control group, the activation and deactivation areas were different from LI4. They concluded that the deactivation area by LI4 was a similar area distribution of pain area in the brain and closely related to the anatomic structure of limbic system which is possibly related to pain relief. Activation of left anterior gyrus by LI4 represents the movement of facial muscles and activation of cerebellum is possibly related to effect of LI4 in treating facial palsy and facial muscle spasm.
Fang JL et al compared the effects of electroacupuncture at acupoints ST36 and CV4 using MRI in 21 healthy volunteers. The similar deactivation effects in the anterior cingulated and medial prefrontal cortices were induced by acupuncture at ST36 or CV4 acupoint. The functional brain network was significantly changed after acupuncture. The instant postacupuncture effects were mainly found in the ventral medial prefrontal cortex and ventral anterior cingulated cortex in the limbic-paralimbic-neocortical network and the effects were stronger at ST36 than that CV4.
Facial acupuncture increases brain blood flow
A new research studies the effect of facial acupuncture on brain blood flow. In this study brain blood flow and heart rate were measured before and after acupuncture treatment. The result has shown that brain blood flow was significantly greater in the brain more specifically in the prefrontal cortex in the acupuncture group. Heart rate was reduced.
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Welcome to my blog, discover acupuncture with Dr Maggie Ju
Qualified as a medical doctor in Western medicine in China with a Medical degree from Beijing, China and a PhD degree from the UK. Many year research and clinical experiences. This blog is for information only.
Monday, 19 February 2018
Acupuncture beyond Ying and Yang, Qi and meridians. Acupuncture alters brain activities
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