Medical Research

Acupuncture and Brain Level Autonomic Nervous System

Kristen Sparrow • July 07, 2012

As readers of this blog know, I’m deeply interested in the  acupuncture’s effect on the autonomic nervous system. This study looks at fMRI and autonomic reactions (heart rate response.)  They found that needling activated areas typically associated with pain, but also activated nuclei of the descending pain control system also identified as the source of the heart rate changes.  I highlight their conclusion below, abstract redacted.

Neuroimage. 2012 Mar;60(1):653-60
Acupuncture–deep pain with an autonomic dimension?
Beissner F, Deichmann R, Henke C, Bär KJ.
Pain & Autonomics – Integrative Research (PAIR), University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Jena, Germany.
Stimulation of acupuncture point Pc6, located above the median nerve, has been shown to be effective in treating nausea and vomiting. It has also frequently been reported to cause a heart rate reduction. .. Our findings indicate that acupuncture may be a special pain stimulus, whose autonomic concomitants could explain its non-analgesic effects and in some cases even have a therapeutic potential.

That “therapeutic potential” of acupuncture is the focus of my research.