Emotion and the brain
The limbic system is a complex set of brain structures just beneath the medial temporal lobe of the cerebrum. It includes the hypothalamus, the hippocampus, the amygdala, and several other nearby areas. This part of the brain supports emotion, behaviour, motivation and memory. Amygdalal is the key emotion center. There are 6 basic emotinos including happiness, anger, sadness, fear, surprise, and disgust. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanning and functional MRI studies have shown that some emotions are more likely to be associated with different regions of limbic system activity than other emotions. Happiness is related to the right frontal cortex, the precuneus, the left amygdala, and the left insula. Fear is linked to the bilateral amygdala, the hypothalamus and areas of the left frontal cortex. Sadness is associated with increased activity of the right occipital lobe, the left insula, the left thalamus the amygdala and the hippocampus which is strongly linked with memory, and it makes sense that awareness of certain memories is associated with feeling sad. Disgust is associated with activation and connections between the left amygdala, the left inferior frontal cortex, and the insular cortex. Anger is associated with activation of the right hippocampus, the amygdala, both sides of the prefrontal cortex and the insular cortex. Surprise is related to the bilateral inferior frontal gyrus and the bilateral hippocampus. Alteration of the limbic system activities can cause emotion changes.
Release emotion with acupuncture
The mood and emotion are influenced by many events in lives, such as sleep, hormones or even weather. A trauma particularly affects emotion which can last longer than it should. When a trauma happens, no matter how big or small, its memory makes a mark in the brain. This creates negative, painful emotions or distress which put you in a state of constant stress, anxiety or depression. They not only are harmful to the mental health, but the physical health too. With recent new research techniques, Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanning and functional MRI studies, the brain region that is associated with emotion is clearer. The right occipital lobe, the left insula, the left thalamus the amygdala and the hippocampus is related with sadness. The hippocampus is strongly linked with memory, and it makes sense that awareness of certain memories is associated with feeling sad. Sadness has been studied more than the other emotions because depression may last for a long time; the effects of antidepressants can be measured based on improved symptoms. Research has shown that acupuncture can help rebalance the brain activities to release emotion.
Acupuncture changes brain activities
Functional magnetic resonance images (fMRI) is a new technique to study brain activities. This technique is also help to study the effect of acupuncture on the brain. Many studies used fMRI to investigate the effect of acupuncture on the brain. For example a study collected 229 papers in Chinese and 109 in English published in journals from January of 1995 to January of 2018. In this study they analysed 11 papers containing 235 cases. Acupuncture increases brain activities on some regions including the right and left anterior cingulated gyrus, right caudate, left superior frontal gyrus, right middle frontal gyrus, and the right paracentral lobe, and decreases other region activities including the left mid-inferior occipital gyrus, left and right precentral and postcentral gyrus.
Acupuncture on St 36 acupuncture point increased some regions activities including the right inferior parietal lobe, left middle inferior gyrus, right posterior lobe of cerebellum, and the left angular gyrus and deceased activities on the right middle superior frontal gyrus.
A recent paper showed the brain activities effect of acupuncture at Liangqiu (ST34), Xuehai (SP-10), Neixiyan (EX-LE4), and Dubi (ST-35). Acupuncture activated the postcentral gyrus, precuneus, temporal, posterior lobe, and occipital lobe.
Get better mood with acupuncture
Everyone has mood changes in some degree, however too much mood changes could be caused by ill health and further affects one’s health. Mood expressions include positive scales like "activity, joy, contemplation, calmness" and negative scales like "anger, irritation, depression, fatigue”. Patients with chronic disease supposed to have dominant negative mood scales. Do you know acupuncture can help you improve mood changes. A research has shown that there was an immediate, fast suppression of unusual slow high amplitude EEG waves in response to acupuncture needle rotation. Also there was a significant improvement on positive mood scales and a decline in negative mood scales after 10 acupuncture sessions. Patients with chronic pain reported a significant decrease of pain intensity after 10 sessions.
Winter blue help with acupuncture
Winter brings with its darker mornings and evenings, and some may feel they hardly see the sunlight at all---going to work in the dark and coming back home in the dark. Many people find themselves feeling sad, blue and even depressed around the winter. The medical name for winter depression is seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It’s fairly common, and it’s more mild than serious. You wake up before the sun even rises, you might start feeling a persistent low mood or lack of energy.
The cause of SAD is not fully understood, shorter days seem to be a main trigger for it. Reduced sunlight in winter can disrupt your body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm. This 24-hour clock responds to cues in your surroundings, especially light and darkness. At night, the brain produces melatonin, helping you sleep. Light stops the brain producing melatonin to help keep you awake. Shortened daylight in winter may increase the production of melatonin and affect the body’s internal clock or circadian rhythm leading to SAD in certain people.
To cope with winter blue or SAD, eating healthy food, keeping active, taking vitamin D may help. Also light therapy and talking therapy may help too. Don’t forget acupuncture. Acupuncture can help reduce winter blue symptoms such as fatigue, low mood and depression.
Menstrua mood swing help with acupuncture
Women have menstrual cycles every month, this could cause emotional problem in many women. It is a part of premenstrual syndrome. Apart from physical signs, they feel tired, stressed, anxious, having bad mood and difficulty to sleep and having headache. Mood swing sometimes is unbearable and could ruin their relationships. Abnormal spontaneous brain activity is found in PMS patients. Acupuncture effectively treated the emotional problems such as stress, anxiety, mood swing, insomnia and headache. A recent research has found that acupuncture can regulate brain activities to reduce these emotional symptoms such as mood swing.
Xiang AF et al Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2019 Jan 25;44(1):66-70. doi: 10.13702/j.1000-0607.180138.
Li A et al Medicine (Baltimore). 2018 Dec;97(50):e13655. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000013655.
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Pang Y et al Front Hum Neurosci. 2018 May 31;12:104. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2018.00104. eCollection 2018.
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.
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