The BBC Health Reporter, Emma Wilkinson wrote an interesting article last year, reporting that the molecule which may control how acupuncture relieves pain has been pinpointed by US researchers.
Experiments showed that levels of adenosine – a natural painkiller – increased in tissues near acupuncture sites, and pain experts said the findings may partly explain how the treatment works.
Adenosine is known to have many roles in the body including regulating sleep and reducing inflammation. Other research has shown that it becomes active in the skin after an injury to act as a local painkiller.
The research team found that during and immediately after an acupuncture treatment, the level of adenosine in the tissues near the needles was 24 times greater than before the treatment, the researchers said.
Then using a drug which extends the effects of adenosine, they found that the benefits of acupuncture lasted three times as long.
Study leader Dr Maiken Nedergaard, a neuroscientist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said: “Acupuncture has been a mainstay of medical treatment in certain parts of the world for 4,000 years, but because it has not been understood completely, many people have remained skeptical.
“In this work, we provide information about one physical mechanism through which acupuncture reduces pain in the body,” she added.
A spokesman from the British Pain Society said: “We have known for a long time that acupuncture alters the response to pain by modulation of some of the pain pathways in the spinal cord, and also by the release of endorphins.
“It is very interesting that scientists have found an alteration in the tissue levels of adenosine, which helps to explain some of the modulatory effects of acupuncture on pain perception.”
Charlotte Green practices acupuncture in Preston, and her clinic is conveniently located for patients travelling from throughout Lancashire.