New MRI research demonstrates that acupuncture “induce(s) different cerebral glucose metabolism changes in pain-related brain regions and reduce(s) intensity of pain” for patients with migraines. In this randomized-controlled study using PET-CT neuroimaging (positron emission tomography - computed tomography), acupuncture was shown to be effective for migraine pain reduction and acupuncture raised glycometabolism in the middle temporal cortex, orbital front cortex, middle frontal gyrus, angular gyrus, post cingulate cortex, the precuneus and the middle cingulate cortex. Acupuncture simultaneously lowered glycometabolism in the parahippocampus, hippocampus, fusiform, postcentral gyrus, and the cerebellum in migraine patients. The study also showed that the choice of acupuncture points used determined the changes in brain glycometabolism. The researchers note that this measurable phenomenon indicates acupuncture point specificity; specific acupuncture points have specific effects.
Subjects with migraines were separated into three groups: traditional acupuncture group (TAG), controlled acupuncture group (CAG), non-intervention group. The TAG group received acupuncture stimulation at TB5 (Waiguan), GB34 (Yanglingquan) and GB20 (Fengchi). The CAG group received acupuncture at St8 (Touwei), LI6 (Pianli) and St36 (Zusanli). The non-intervention group did not receive treatment.
The TAG group was more effective than the other groups at reducing pain due to migraines. Additionally, the glycometabolism was higher in the TAG group than in the non-intervention group in the middle temporal cortex, orbital frontal cortex, middle frontal gyrus, angular gyrus, post cingulate cortex, precuneus, and the middle cingulate cortex. The TAG group decreased glycometabolism in the parahippocampus, hippocampus, fusiform, postcentral gyrus and cerebellum more than in the non-intervention group. The CAG group more greatly increased glycometabolism in the middle temporal cortex, supratemporal gyrus, supramarginal gyrus and the middle cingulate cortex than was measured in the non-intervention group. The CAG group decreased glycometabolism more greatly than the non-intervention group in the cerebellum.
Similar conclusions were reached in another recent study conducted by researchers at the University of California, School of Medicine in Irvine, California. The researchers concluded, “Recent evidence shows that stimulation of different points on the body causes distinct responses in hemodynamic, fMRI and central neural electrophysiological responses.” The investigators reviewed MRI results and noted that “stimulation of different sets of acupoints leads to disease-specific neuronal responses, even when acupoints are located within the same spinal segment.”
I) A PET-CT study on specificity of acupoints through acupuncture treatment on migraine patients. Jie Yang1, Fang Zeng1, Yue Feng1,Li Fang1, Wei Qin2, Xuguang Liu1, Wenzhong Song3, Hongjun Xie3 , Ji Chen1, Fanrong Liang1.
1 Acupuncture and Tuina School, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu 610075, China.
2 Life Science Research Center, School of Life Science and Technology, Xidian University, Xi’an, Shaanxi, China.
3 PET-CT center, Sichuan Provincial People’s Hospital, Chengdu, China.
II) Point specificity in acupuncture. Chinese Medicine 2012, 7:4 doi:10.1186/1749-8546-7-4. Emma M Choi, Fang Jiang, John C Longhurst. Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine, Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine CA. Medical Science, School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine. Medical Science, School of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, CA.