Ethics in Medicine

Hormesis: Benefits of Low Dose Stressors

Kristen Sparrow • December 14, 2012

One strategy in my mission to improve  acupuncture results is to find models in nature that explain why humans would have evolved to respond to acupuncture.  What is it mimicking in nature that makes it have it’s healing properties?  For example, is it an analog of grooming, or touch?
I came across the concept of “hormesis” while involved in a wide ranging discussion with Sharman Russell, author of many books, but  her book  “Hunger was key to my understanding of hunger, dieting and it’s powerful role in human existence.  The concept of hormesis is when a beneficial effect results from exposure to a low dose of an agent that is otherwise toxic or lethal.  Some examples would be the effects of calorie restriction, some phytochemicals, exercise stress, etc …  Is acupuncture is such a stressor?  Maybe it causes a reaction in the body to a small stimulus, that leads to a response much larger,  not unlike the response to small antigen doses in allergy desensitization.  In this article they discuss some of the chemical pathways involved.  None of them were immediately recognizable as pathways in acupuncture, but I will continue to research this.  It also fits in with the recent blog posts about how too much hygiene is not healthy.  The body needs to be challenged some to thrive.
A fascinating blog devoted to the concept is here.