Acupuncture Continuing Education

Medical Breakthrough - Pain Reduced By Acupuncture

A new breakthrough in medical science finds a special bodily chemical responsible for pain reduction that is activated by acupuncture. The new state-of-the-art German research is a major discovery on how acupuncture stops pain. The anti-pain chemical is a chemokine called CXCL10. Acupuncture stimulates its expression which, in turn, reduces pain and inflammation by activating natural opioids in the body. Researchers from one of the largest university hospitals in Europe, Charité, and from the University Hospital of Würzburg have isolated this powerful pain stopping chemical in a new laboratory experiment. Needling of the rotator cuff is used to stop pain.

The implications of this research are far reaching. It maps an exact pathway in which electroacupuncture powerfully reduces pain and inflammation. Simultaneously, this finding points to an important bodily chemical for the activation of pain relief. CXCL-10 is a chemokine. In general, chemokines attract white blood cells to sites of infection to assist in immune system responses. This special chemokine, when activated by electroacupuncture, triggers a powerful anti-inflammatory response.

Electroacupuncture stimulated other important chemical responses including the augmentation of interferon (IFN)-gama and mRNA expression. The cascade of chemical responses to electroacupuncture caused the increase in opioid peptide containing macrophages. As a result, the researchers note that electroacupuncture “elicited long-term antinociception,” reduced sensitivity to pain. Controlled laboratory tests confirm the results and it is now medical fact that electroacupuncture stimulates powerful anti-inflammatory biological responses and significantly reduces pain. This acupuncture continuing education and research now maps the pathway of anti-inflammation for electroacupuncture. 

The researchers undertook this investigation because prior studies demonstrated that, “Acupuncture has been shown to significantly reduce pain intensity in various pain syndromes…” including osteoarthritis, low back pain and knee pain. The team notes that the body of research demonstrating the effectiveness of acupuncture for pain reduction is so great that it is “covered by public health insurances in some countries including Germany.” The investigative team sought to measure how the results were medically possible by the application of electroacupuncture. Filiform acupuncture needles are made of metal and do not contain any surface chemical stimulants for the purposes of eliciting biological responses. Prior to this new research, studies revealed that acupuncture “leads to a down-regulation of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor” and reduced sensitivity to pain by activating cannabinoid receptor 2. This new discovery confirms that electroacupuncture causes important biological changes responsible for analgesia by activating CXCL10, mRNA, interferon and opioid peptide containing macrophages. 

Campus Virchow-KlinikumCampus Virchow-Klinikum, Charité

The study “explored the molecular mechanisms of peripheral opioid-mediated antinociception in late inflammation and antinociception by electroacupuncture.” This was found to involve the regulation of bodily chemicals called cytokines and chemokines. The researchers found that CXCL10 regulates “opioid-containing macrophages as (a) key regulator of electroacupuncture-induced antinociception.” This answers many questions as to how electroacupuncture effectively stops pain and inflammation by mapping intricate biological responses triggered by electroacupuncture.

The researchers note that skeptics criticize acupuncture and attribute responses to placebo effects. This study proves that acupuncture “suppressed selected pro- and enhanced anti-inflammatory cytokines” and “increased the production of the cytokine IFN-gamma and the chemokine CXCL10 at the site of inflammation leading to an increase in opioid-containing CXCR3+ macrophages.” In addition, “Macrophage-derived opioid peptides could activate opioid receptors on peripheral sensory neurons and suppressed inflammatory pain. Taken together we identified a new molecular pathway of acupuncture-induced analgesia.” This research eliminates the placebo effect as the active role in acupuncture analgesia and establishes acupuncture as an effective down-regulator of pain and inflammation responses.

Prior to this research, it was known that acupuncture caused opioid peptide releases in the spinal cord, brain and peripheral nervous system. The new research extends “these findings by demonstrating that electroacupuncture stimulated the increased numbers of leukocytes (macrophages) containing the three opioid peptides END, ENK, and DYN and that all three opioid peptides mediated antinociception to thermal and mechanical stimuli….” The researchers note that the new study provides supportive evidence that electroacupuncture exerts therapeutic anti-inflammatory responses.

The incredible increase in quality acupuncture continuing education research in the last two years is staggering. This latest finding sweeps away critics of acupuncture. The skeptics are simply uninformed about the new modern scientific acupuncture findings. At the Healthcare Medicine Institute (HealthCMi), we have published an enormous body of research from prestigious universities. The research is peer-reviewed, published in established journals and encompasses both primary and secondary studies. Some meta-analyses involve the investigation of tens of thousands of patients and the evidence is clear, acupuncture works. For licensed acupuncturists, click to learn how to stop pain in one of HealthCMi’s acupuncture CEU online courses.

Wang, Ying, Rebekka Gehringer, Shaaban A. Mousa, Dagmar Hackel, Alexander Brack, and Heike L. Rittner. "CXCL10 Controls Inflammatory Pain via Opioid Peptide-Containing Macrophages in Electroacupuncture." PloS one 9, no. 4 (2014): e94696.

Manheimer E, White A, Berman B, Forys K, Ernst E (2005) Meta-analysis: Acupuncture for low back pain. Ann Intern Med 142: 651–663.

Vas J, Aranda JM, Modesto M, Benitez-Parejo N, Herrera A, et al. (2012) Acupuncture in patients with acute low back pain: A multicentre randomised controlled clinical trial. Pain 153: 1883–1889.

Zhang RX, Lao LX, Wang LB, Liu B, Wang XY, et al. (2004) Involvement of opioid receptors in electroacupuncture-produced anti-hyperalgesia in rats with peripheral inflammation. Brain Res 1020: 12–17.

Taguchi R, Taguchi T, Kitakoji H (2010) Involvement of peripheral opioid receptors in electroacupuncture analgesia for carrageenan-induced hyperalgesia. Brain Res 1355: 97–103.

Wang Y, Hackel D, Peng F, Rittner HL (2013) Long-term antinociception by electroacupuncture is mediated via peripheral opioid receptors in free-moving rats with inflammatory hyperalgesia. Eur J Pain 17: 1447–57.

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