This article looks at electroacupuncture for chronic tension headache and correlates symptom response (VAS) and BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) levels in serum. full article here. The role of BDNF is described in the article as follows.
“BDNF has been identified as a key player in the sensitization of the system, altering the excitatory/inhibitory balance in the central nervous system (CNS), and in the amplification of pain transmission modulation of the nociceptive sensory inputs in the spinal cord [/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][7,8]. BDNF is secreted by both neurons and neuroglia  actively crossing the blood–brain barrier. The CNS contributes to 70-80% of the serum BDNF, allowing for reliable inference of its concentration in the CNS by serum assessments . Having a relevant mediator of the CNS modulation evaluated in a serum sample may open the door for improving the understanding of the neuronal plasticity in clinical scenarios, offering insights into the neuromodulation induced by current therapies, such as electroacupuncture (EA).”
This concept of sensitization is key to my understanding of how acupuncture might help not only in pain syndromes like headache and migraine, but also in allergy, immune issues such as Multiple Sclerosis, and panic attacks. I wonder of what acupuncture can offer is a way to desensitize the system so that it is not as susceptible to triggers that will set off pain, panic, or immune dysfunction.