Medical Research

Study on Acupuncture and Aging: Telomeres

Kristen Sparrow • April 25, 2016

This is so great. 

Roots in the Community, Branches Far Beyond - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

A group is going to give intensive acupuncture for 8 weeks to patients with various ailments and look at their telomeres before and after.  This is just the kind of data we need to show the profound benefits of acupuncture.

HRV is correlated with telomere length, but I haven’t made a sufficient case to myself that you can really detect differences over time.  Other researchers have.  But more definitive markers, like telomeres, will be a great step in showing the in

crease in overall health that is achieved with acupuncture.

Don’t worry, I haven’t given up on showing differences with HRV, it’s just more nuanced than I thought.  I will posting on this in the next few days.

In 2015, Nicole Rodney, PhD, MPH, an upcoming student-intern at JTS and a medical anthropologist, was awarded a grant to study the effects of acupuncture on aging. Rodney and collaborators at the University of California-San Diego (UCSD) partnered with JTS and the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) to conduct this study, funded by the Healthy Aging Institute of UCSD. The study tests the hypothesis that intensive acupuncture treatments (3 times a week for 8 weeks) will increase the activity of the enzyme telomerase, which contributes to telomere length, a marker of aging. Telomeres are tails of DNA on the ends of chromosomes that shorten as our cells replicate, and this shortening is correlated with overall aging. This is the first study on humans to test whether or not acupuncture treatments have an impact on cellular aging. Each individual participating in the study will have 24 treatments over the course of 8 weeks and will submit to several blood tests. The hope is that the positive results of this pilot study will lead to a larger study substantiating the effects of acupuncture on the aging process.