Scientists Try to Solve the Mystery of Acupuncture

Researchers use modern medicine to test ancient therapy
By Emily Rauhala,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2010 5:00 AM CDT
Scientists Try to Solve the Mystery of Acupuncture
Acupuncture is based on the idea illness and pain are due to blockages and imbalances in qi.   (Shutter Stock)

Western researchers are using high-tech tools to unlock the secrets of an ancient therapy: acupuncture. Neuroimaging studies show the practice can calm parts of the brain linked to pain and activate those linked to recuperation. Doppler ultrasounds, meanwhile, show that acupuncture increases blood flow. Carefully placed needles can even make inflammation subside, thermal imaging tests suggest.

Some are still skeptical. "Something measurable is happening when you stick a needle into a patient—that doesn't impress me at all," a professor of complementary medicine tells the Wall Street Journal. Acupuncture has a placebo effect, he says. "Whether it does anything else, the jury is still out." Either way, a growing number of Americans are sold: 3.2 million underwent acupuncture in 2007, up from 2.1 million in 2001, a survey shows.
(Read more alternative medicine stories.)

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