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Scientific Basis of Acupuncture
The scientific basis of acupuncture in the treatment of injuries and to promote soft-tissue healing may involve platelets secreting growth factors (e.g. cytokines) and metabolites promoting a healing cascade, and stimulation of collagen regeneration.
Modern research shows the efficacy of acupuncture in relieving pain, particularly muscle and joint pain. This analgesic effect of acupuncture is partly explained by the gate control theory of pain (Melzac and Wall). Changes in neurotransmitter function, endorphins, and serotonin are also thought to be involved.
Recently CT scans have shown the anatomical structures of acupuncture points. This new research demonstrates the physical existence of acupuncture points. In a recent study published in the Journal of Electron Spectroscopy and Related Phenomena, researchers used in-line phase contrast CT imaging with synchrotron radiation on both non-acupuncture points and acupuncture points. The CT scans revealed clear distinctions between the non-acupuncture point and acupuncture point anatomical structures. Acupuncture points have a higher density of micro-vessels and contain a large amount of involuted microvascular structures.
For more on research into Acupuncture and controlled clinical trials — and a list of conditions and disorders that can be treated with Acupuncture — please see our page on Diseases and Disorders that can be treated with Acupuncture.