Monday, May 31, 2010

On Pins and Needles

I've never experienced acupuncture but with a 4,000 year history and after conversations with a friend who is an acupuncturist and others who have used it I have little doubt that it can be helpful.

It's about time science caught up.

From Physorg...
In a paper published May 30 in Nature Neuroscience, a team at the University of Rochester identifies the molecule adenosine as a central player in parlaying some of the effects of acupuncture in the body.

The research focuses on adenosine, a natural compound known for its anti-inflammatory properties but one that also acts as a natural painkiller, becoming active in the skin after an injury to inhibit nerve signals and ease pain. In the study, scientists found that the chemical is also very active in deeper tissues affected by acupuncture. The research complements an established body of work showing that in the central nervous system, acupuncture creates signals that cause the brain to churn out natural pain-killing endorphins.

"Acupuncture has been a mainstay of medical treatment in certain parts of the world for 4,000 years, but because it has not been understood completely, many people have remained skeptical," said Nedergaard. "In this work, we provide information about one physical mechanism through which acupuncture reduces pain in the body," she added.

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