Kristen Sparrow • April 08, 2015
This ties into my area of interest of monitoring vagal tone during acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture can be helpful with pain, but more interestingly, with immune problems such as allergy. Since immune function is thought to be implicated in so many modern ailments, from rheumatoid arthritis to cancer to autism, this type of thinking may help lead the way to some new therapies. Or making ancient medicine modern.
But another key aspect of the thinking here is this, “High vagal tone may reflect more flexible top-down brain regulation of immune and physiological activity.” In my studies, I have seen an increase in HRV after needling in patients likely to clinically improve with acupuncture treatment. (I have needed to focus on this dynamic aspect of HRV, since there can be some variation in baseline HRV between sessions. But in general, patients have almost a “finger print” in their HRV response. It’s not random, but individual.) And, yes, it seems to vary with points or stimulation used, but not as much as one might think. Am I causing or merely capturing the healing shift? Am I simply causing a placebo response that leads to healing? Or is the treatment key? Still questions.
J Neuroimmunol. 2013 Jul 15;260(1-2):28-36. doi: 10.1016/j.jneuroim.2013.04.011. Epub 2013 May 14.