Acupuncture Continuing Education

Electron Microscope Study - Acupuncture Protects Brain

New research demonstrates that specific electro-acupuncture frequencies result in superior neurologic functional recovery following ischemic incidents. A recent study demonstrates that specific electro-acupuncture interventions protect the structural integrity of astrocytes and exert a protective mechanism in the brain following cerebral ischemic injuries. Researchers discovered that electro-acupuncture applied bilaterally to LI11 (Quchi) and ST36 (Zusanli) at 15 Hz and 30 Hz is effective in preserving the structural integrity of astrocytes, important regulators of neuronal survival following ischemic brain injuries. Electro-acupuncture at 100 Hz did not show the same benefits as 15 Hz and 30 Hz when measured with glial fibrillary acid protein expression tests and investigation of ultrastructural damage on the borders of the infarct.

Electron microscope studies show that acupuncture protects the brain. Electron MicroscopeThe researchers employed electron microscopy to take a look at the results. They documented clear examples of nerve cell and astrocyte protection due to pre-treatment with electro-acupuncture at 15 Hz and 30 Hz at LI11 and ST36. Following electron microscope evaluation the researchers concluded, “we observed that ischemic changes in nerve cells and astrocytes were significantly reduced in the hippocampus following stimulation at 15 and 30 Hz. This indicated that pretreatment was more effective in maintaining cell shape and created a neuroprotective effect.”

The research incorporated quantitative analysis of experimental rat models involving middle cerebral arterial occlusion. It was documented through scientific investigation that neurological deficits improved in the groups receiving the 15 Hz and 30 Hz electro-acupuncture stimulation. The electro-acupuncture was delivered with dense-sparse waveforms for 30 minutes a day for 5 days. The researchers were able to quantify an improvement in nerve function as a result of electro-acupuncture and note that their findings are consistent with prior research in which electro-acupuncture promotes limb function after cerebral ischemic injuries. Although 100 Hz electro-acupuncture stimulates the release of four types of opioid peptides for use in analgesia, the researchers concluded that it is 15 Hz and 30 Hz electro-acupuncture that is optimal for protection of nervous system structures.

Xiao, Y. C., X. G. Wu, X. F. Deng, L. P. Huang, Y. C. Zhou, and X. J. Yang. "Optimal electroacupuncture frequency for maintaining astrocyte structural integrity in cerebral ischemia."