For decades in the West, there has been so much adverse comments from “scientific society” on effect cause of acupuncture. One says acupuncture is just a superstitious and unscientific. It may be just a psychological placebo effect. These stories were further “strengthened” or “proved” by researches on ‘real’ and ‘sham’ acupuncture. The setting on ‘sham” acupuncture was very “Western” thinking. Ignoring there are so many classic theories on acupuncture, such as Extraordinary needle points or ashis points, dermo points, Jing and Luo meridian, the researchers designed ‘sham’ points at some distance to the meridian points or needles not penetrating skin. All were stimulation to the body. All are related to the meridian. No wonder they found out ‘real’ and ‘sham’ might be similar. And then they drew conclusion that ‘real’ acupuncture does not work or just psychological healing. Then how do you explain baby acupuncture or animal acupuncture?Gratefully, researchers correct the previous mistakes and are generating study models which makes sense.
Recent Harvard Research indicates that “real” acupuncture rewires the brain to produce long-term improvement in carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, while “sham” acupuncture may produce temporary results by tapping into the placebo circuitry in the brain. Sham acupuncture may ‘work’ by modulating known placebo circuitry in the brain,” said Napadow, who is an associate professor in radiology at Harvard Medical School. “In contrast, real acupuncture may improve CTS symptoms by rewiring the primary somatosensory cortex, in addition to modulating local blood flow to the peripheral nerve in the wrist. In other words, both peripheral and central neurophysiological changes in CTS may be halted or even reversed by electro-acupuncture interventions that provide more prolonged and regulated input to the brain — something that future, longer-term neuroimaging studies should explore.
The practice of acupuncture predates current understanding of physiology by several millennia, and modern studies have found it often provides measurable improvements in health outcomes, particularly in the area of chronic pain. Now, in a study reported in the journal Brain, a team of investigators based at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) sheds new light on the question of how.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) taken before and after several months of therapy in three different groups of CTS patients — one receiving electro-acupuncture at the affected hand, one receiving electro-acupuncture at the ankle opposite the affected hand, and the other receiving sham electro-acupuncture with placebo needles near the affected hand — the researchers found that both real and sham acupuncture improved patient-reported CTS symptoms. However, there were notable differences in physiologic measures. Real acupuncture at the affected hand led to measurable improvements in outcomes both at the affected wrist and in the brain, while acupuncture at the opposite ankle produced improvement at the wrist only. Brain remapping immediately after real acupuncture was linked to long-term improvement in CTS symptoms. No physiologic improvements resulted from sham acupuncture.