A new study by Dr. Ladan Eshkevari and colleagues at the Georgetown University School of Nursing uses electronic acupuncture on rats to further understand the molecular basis behind acupuncture's benefit.
According to Dr. Ladan Eshkevari, Associate Professor at Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies, "Many practitioners of acupuncture have observed that this ancient practice can reduce stress in their patients, but there is a lack of biological proof of how or why this happens." In a new study published in the Journal of Endocrinology, Dr. Eshkevari and his colleagues aimed to explore the biological mechanisms involved in acupuncture's stress relieving abilities at a molecular level.
For the study, Dr. Eshkevari and colleagues designed a series of tests that used exact same dose of pressure of electronic acupuncture of the point "Zusanli" in rats. Stimulation of this point, which is the same in rats and humans, is reported to alleviate stress and other conditions.
The researchers split the rats into four groups for a 10 day experiment: control with no added stress and no acupuncture, stressed for one hour each day and no acupuncture, stressed for an hour each day and receiving "sham" acupuncture by their tails; and stressed for an hour each day and received genuine acupuncture at "Zusanli" point. Hormones levels were measured as it was released into the bloodstream during the stress reaction from the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal gland (together known as the HPA axis), as well as a peptide involved in the "fight or flight" response, called NPY.
Through this study, they discovered that "electronic acupuncture blocks the chronic, stress-induced elevations of the HPA axis hormones and the sympathetic NPY pathway." These findings, which support acupuncture as a useful tool in combating stress, are encouraging for the improvement of healthcare through the integration of effective Eastern medical practices.
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