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The actual mechanism of acupuncture involves stimulating specific points along the body, known as acupuncture points. Despite the debate regarding its effectiveness, there have been several reported cases of conditions healed through acupuncture. Acupuncture has been an essential part of medicine for thousands of years in the East, yet even as it catches on in the West, physicians in this part of the world have yet to figure out exactly how this ancient technique works. The technique of acupuncture involves placing hair-thin needles in various pressure points (called acupoints) throughout the body.
In the Western view, acupuncture likely works by stimulating the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release chemicals called neurotransmitters and hormones. As a result of a recent study that measured specific acupuncture points by EEG, researchers discovered that acupuncture has a “greater influence on the attention function of the brain.” The goal of the study was to investigate the effects of needling two main acupuncture points (Ht7 and Lu9) on human attention brain function and also to explore methods to research brain function as it relates to acupuncture stimulation. The researches used EEG (electroencephalography) to measure ERP (event-related potentials).
Acupuncture is derived from traditional Chinese medicine and is now currently a well-known form of alternative medicine. This is most commonly achieved through the use of flexible, stainless steel acupuncture needles. Acupuncturists are strictly trained to clean their equipment and learn how to properly analyze their patients’ conditions before beginning the therapy. Stimulating these points is believed to promote the body's natural healing capabilities and enhance its function. The idea behind acupuncture is that stimulating these points with acupuncture needles or pressure relieves obstructions in the flow of energy, enabling the body to heal. EEG measures electrical activity of the brain and ERP is a measure of brain responses related to thought and perception.


Ht7 (Shenmen, Spirits Gate) is an acupuncture point at the wrist crease known to be calming and restful to the heart and ‘spirit’.
It was developed from the ancient belief in Taoism of Qi, which Taoists believe is the fundamental energy or force that drives all living things. The needle is first sterilized and tested by the practitioner before being inserted into the right acupuncture point.
As a natural treatment, acupuncture is also generally safer than certain medications and less risky than more invasive procedures. Scientific studies are offering real evidence that it can ease pain and treat ailments ranging from osteoarthritis to migraine headaches.
ERP is an electrophysiological measurement of stimuli to the brain. Researchers looked for changes in P300, a brainwave reflecting cognitive function in decision making processes, after application of manual acupuncture at Ht7 and Lu9. It is traditionally used for mental restlessness, mania, palpitations, disorientation, depression, and poor memory. Acupuncturists believe that they can regulate or channel a person’s Qi through their practice.
The depth and manner of insertion vary, depending on the disposition of the patient and the area of the body that is receiving treatment. The World Health Organization has approved of acupuncture as a safe form of pain treatment, provided that it is administered by a licensed and skilled practitioner. Lu9 is known more for its affect on lung disorders so it is not surprising, from a Chinese medicine perspective, that EEG measurements more strongly connect Ht7 to changes in brainwave states associated with attention and cognition. Despite the current popularity of acupuncture, there is still much controversy surrounding it that involves its medicinal use.
The much greater controversy over acupuncture lies in its safety, as its invasive nature risks several viral and bacterial infections.


Its pain-relieving qualities make it a helpful therapy for several cancer patients and for others suffering from physical debilitating conditions. Many doubts its effectiveness and others are even more wary of its safety, as both the apparatuses and the process itself may produce adverse health effects. Any of the apparatuses used, such as the towels and needles, could pass pathogens into a patient’s body. While it may not be able to cure the actual illness, patients claim that it is more helpful in giving them relief than other forms of medication.
However, the flow of energy can sometimes be blocked, like water getting stuck behind a dam. Other adverse side-effects from acupuncture may occur in patients with certain conditions, such as spinal disease and hemophilia. The therapeutic effects of acupuncture make it ideal for alleviating stress and treating anxiety disorders. Acupuncture is also an effective depression treatment, and has helped in imbuing patients with more optimistic dispositions.
Regardless of the general skepticism targeted toward acupuncture, most patients still prefer it over not having any form of pain relief therapy.



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