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Acupuncture Enhances Brain’s Ability to Regulate Pain

August 13th 2009

Traditional Chinese acupuncture increases brain receptors' ability to lessen pain, according to a new study.
By Raphael Gassiolle

Traditional Chinese acupuncture affects the brain’s ability to regulate pain, according to a new study performed on patients suffering from fibromyalgia, a chronic pain syndrome.

Researchers scanned the brains of 20 women who had reported suffering from fibromyalgia at least 50 percent of the time, with brain scans occurring after the first acupuncture sessions and one month later, after several more acupuncture sessions.

Acupuncture, the study showed, enhances the binding ability of mu-opoid receptors in the brain used to lessen the affects of pain.

“The increased binding availability of these receptors was associated with reductions in pain,” said lead researcher Richard E. Harris, assistant professor of anesthesiology at the University of Michigan Medical School, according to a report.

Study results were published in the August issue of the scientific journal NeuroImage.