PET (positron emission tomography scans) scans, single-photon emission computer tomography, fNIR (functional near infrared spectroscopy), and fMRI’s (functional magnetic resonance imaging) have scientifically determined that acupuncture performed to a specific intensity induce considerable changes in cerebral (brain) concentrations of oxygenated blood and microvascular blood flow modification. This mechanism is why acupuncture is effective in the treatment of concussions/head trauma, cervical spine trauma, chronic pain, acute pain, and diseases that involve autonomic dysfunction such as visceral pain.
The pre-SMA and SMA (Supplementary Motor Area) areas of the brain deal with motor function and acute or chronic pain. Increased activity in these areas are markedly elevated in people suffering from acute and chronic pain. Acupuncture decreases activation to this area via reducing oxygenated blood concentrations to these regions, causing a significant reduction in the sensation of pain.
Chronic pain and chronic injuries are encoded by the PFC (prefrontal cortex) region of the brain. Acupuncture decreases activity in this region causing significant reduction in chronic pain, allowing for rehabilitation, and return to physical activity.
the autonomic NS (both the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches) can not only sustain but also generate chronic pain. Suppression of the sympathetic nervous system is correlated to reducing musculoskeletal pain characterized by tension and skeletal muscle tightness, as sympathetic activation controls skeletal muscle tension levels
Furthering research is being conducted in the fields of Cancer and Immune therapy on the presence of a cell that predates a stem cell, called a primo microcell. These primo microcells have been found to contain fractions of the human genome, allowing them to induce cells to behave like stem cells, creating regeneration, even in adults. The research was conducted by Dr. Kim who was researching how acupuncture works; it is believed acupuncture can cause neurogenesis via the Primo Vascular System- the system where the microcells circulate.
The major correlation found across all research into acupuncture-induced neurogenesis in the brain, the spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system was the proliferation and induction of NGF (Nerve Growth Factor), BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor), NT-3, and NT-4 (Neurotrophin-3 and -4). These Neurotrophins were seen to be in even greater amounts when the acupuncture was combined with electrical stimulation (called Electroacupuncture).
Electroacupuncture releases Beta-endorphins from the hypothalamus in the brain, leading to midbrain, medulla oblongata, and spinal cord responses, inducing whole body analgesia (naturally regulated pain killing response), reducing swelling/antiedema effect, and reducing inflammation. PET scans and lab work have repeatedly shown these brain pathways are greatly upregulated during acupuncture and stimulation of these regions last well past the treatment itself. While B-endorphins relieve pain greatly, they also lead to the secretion of CRH (corticotropin releasing hormone), ACTH (adrenocorticotropin hormone), corticosterone, serotonin, noradrenalin, anti inflammatory cytokines, and endogenous (naturally occurring) painkilling hormones leading to an anti-edema effect (reducing swelling).
Acupuncture regulates the release of the neurochemicals NSE, S-100B, endothelin, serpin G1 protein, gelsolin, and complement component I, 3, and 4B, which protect nerves from cellular damage and cellular death.
Acupuncture increases parasympathetic nervous system tone and PPE protein levels which lead to blood pressure regulation, back to normal levels: lowering BP when it’s elevated, and increasing BP when it’s depressed.
Connective tissue physically wraps around the acupuncture needle leading to increased tension and tissue remodeling/deformation. This grabbing of collagen stimulated fibrocytes leading to cytokine chemical responses.