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New evidence demonstrates acupuncture activates specific regions of the brain for the treatment of specific diseases. Investigators from the Acupuncture and Moxibustion Department of Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine also find that acupuncture regulates neurotransmitters as a mechanism to modulate autonomic nervous system responses. The review article notes that further investigation is required to differentiate the effects of specific acupuncture points versus the medicinal effects elicited by needling along the acupuncture meridians.

Acupuncture exerts its effects on the nervous system. The review focused on a great body of modern research and uncovered many of the mechanisms by which acupuncture exerts its medicinal effects on human health. The study noted that numerous new research investigations have shown that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of autonomic nervous system related disorders including epilepsy, anxiety, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), infertility and cardiovascular disorders. Additional research demonstrates that acupuncture regulates the autonomic nervous system thereby modulating blood pressure, pupil size, muscle activities, heart and pulse rates, HRV (heart rate variability) and skin conductance and temperature.

The research finds correlates between biomedical and Chinese Medicine theories. The study notes that acupuncture’s ability to regulate Yin and Yang translates into the biomedical view that acupuncture regulates the flux between the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the autonomic nervous system. Specifically, they cite the ability of acupuncture to regulate parasympathetic activity is directly related to stimulation of the De-Qi (arrival of Qi) sensation associated with acupuncture needle manipulation.

Numerous studies demonstrate that acupuncture regulates the autonomic nervous system by affecting specific activities in the hypothalamus, medulla oblongata, ventrolateral periaqueductal gray and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex of the brain. In the hypothalamus, for example, needling acupuncture point ST36 regulates the expression of neuronal nitric oxide synthase. Electroacupuncture has been shown to affect serotogenic projections in the medulla oblongata and contributes to acupuncture’s ability to regulate cardiovascular activity. Electroacupuncture also activates neurons within the medulla oblongata. These responses are elicited by verum acupuncture and not from control groups receiving only sham acupuncture. In the midbrain, electroacupuncture excites neurons and plays a role in the midbrain’s modulation of blood pressure.

Many other findings were verified by the systematic review. Electroacupuncture has been shown to heal impaired gastric motility and dysrhythmic slow waves by regulation of vagal nerve activity.  The nerve activity was affected by acupuncture’s ability to affect opiod pathways. Acupuncture’s ability to decrease the heart rate, however, was shown to be elicited by its ability to activate GABAergic neurons and not opioids in one of the reviewed studies. The investigators note that this finding is confirmed by other research showing that acupuncture’s effects on opioid receptor mediated transmission is not responsible for slowing the heart rate. As a result, the investigators suggest that acupuncture may exert its medicinal effects by many types of neurotransmitters. The investigators also cited numerous studies showing that acupuncture activates enkephalinergic neurons in several different brain regions.

Amino acids have also been shown to respond to acupuncture stimulation. Electroacupuncture at acupuncture points P5 and P6 directly activates vesicular glutamate transporter 3 (VGLUT3), a protein that mediates the uptake of glutamate into synaptic vesicles. VGLUT3 is found in the amygdala, cerebellum, hippocampus, medulla, spinal cord and thalamus and is involved in biological processes such as hearing, ion transport, neurotransmitter transport and sodium transport. The research notes that studies point to glutamate and GABA involvement in the mechanism by which acupuncture exerts a regulatory affect on the autonomic nervous system.

The investigators reviewed over 75 modern studies on the medical effects and actions by which acupuncture exerts its effects on human health. They note that specific acupuncture points elicit specific biological processes and that sham acupuncture controls do not demonstrate the same effects as verum acupuncture points. They suggest that future research is needed to determine if it is the individual acupuncture point that exerts a specific function or it is the acupuncture meridian on which the acupuncture is located.

Li, Qian-Qian, Guang-Xia Shi, Qian Xu, Jing Wang, Cun-Zhi Liu, and Lin-Peng Wang. "Acupuncture Effect and Central Autonomic Regulation." Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013 (2013).

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Acupuncture CEU & PDA Online Courses FAQs

Below are a few of the most frequent questions we field. You can also find more on our SUPPORT page. If you still haven’t found your answer, please feel free to contact us anytime. We would love to hear from you.

Are acupuncture CEUs & NCCAOM PDAs valid in my state or province?

HealthCMi CEUs are valid in every state in the USA, including Washington DC and other regions such as Puerto Rico. Most states use the NCCAOM acupuncture CEU/PDA certification that comes with every HealthCMi course.

All courses are valid for specialty certifications from the California Acupuncture Board and the Texas State Board of Acupuncture Examiners. HealthCMi courses are approved for Florida Board of Acupuncture CEs for acupuncture license renewal credit along with other specialty certifications such as the State of Illinois (IDFPR) acupuncture CE sponsor program. If you don’t see your state listed (North Carolina, New York, Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts, Utah, etc.), that is because the rest of the USA is covered by the NCCAOM certification that comes with every HealthCMi course. We even have courses approved through the specialty programs of the State of Nevada Board of Oriental Medicine, ABORM, IVAS, and more. An added bonus, all courses are California Board of Registered Nursing approved, so nurses can get acupuncture CEUs and nursing continuing education credit simultaneously.

In addition, HealthCMi acupuncture CEUs are valid throughout New Zealand, Canada (including CTCMA, BC and CAAA), and Australia for acupuncture continuing education credit.

Check our interactive map to learn more about your CEU credits >

Do acupuncture webinars count as live CEUs?

Yes. In many states that require in-person attendance, live acupuncture webinars count for face-to-face CEU credit. For example, the California Acupuncture Board allows 25 CEUs via distance learning and the other 25 must be live (in a classroom or a live webinar online). New Jersey acupuncturists also benefit from live webinars for in-class requirement fulfillment. In the USA, no quiz is required for live webinars and for CTCMA acupuncturists in British Columbia (Canada), the survey fulfills the 2-way requirement and no quiz is required.

For live webinars, do I need to take a quiz?

Quizzes are not required for live webinars, only for anytime distance learning courses. You may see a quiz button on the learning management system control panel; however, if you try to take a quiz, the system will tell you that it is unnecessary. Make sure to click the download button to get the link to the live webinar. We will also send you a link via email the day before the event.

How do I purchase Acupuncture CEU courses online?

Click on Acupuncture CEUs in the top menu to view all course listings and follow the links. Simply choose the courses you like, add to cart, and get CEU credit from our online learning system.

HealthCMi courses are NCCAOM Diplomate PDA (applies to most States), California CEU, Florida CE, Texas CAE, CTCMA (BC, Canada), CAAA, Illinois, and State of Nevada Board of Oriental Medicine approved for continuing education credit hours and more. Massachusetts licensed acupuncturist can obtain their herbal medicine hours or acupuncture category required hours. All 50 states and territories in the USA are approved for acupuncture CEU credit for HealthCMi courses. Our acupuncture CEUs are also valid throughout Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and much more.

Check listings for ABORM approved courses. All courses for acupuncturists are also California Board of Registered Nursing approved.

How long do I have to take the Acupuncture CEU courses online?

There is no time limit for course completion of your Acupuncture CEU or PDA courses.

How many times can I retake Acupuncture CEU course quizzes?

You make re-take quizzes until a passing grade is achieved. A certificate of completion is automatically generated, and you may print it. There is no extra charge to re-take quizzes.