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Acupuncture

The phrase "Western medical acupuncture" sets it apart from the traditional style of acupuncture utilized in Chinese medicine. Western medical acupuncture differs in two significant ways from its traditional counterpart, as it doesn't include the customary ideas like Yin/Yang and the flow of qi, and it doesn't position itself as a separate medical approach.   Acupuncture has a long history of being used to treat various symptoms and conditions. While current clinical trials support its effectiveness in reducing nausea and alleviating different types of pain, it is believed that acupuncture does not have a single mode of action. Instead, it has a range of effects on various bodily functions, making it both fascinating and complex to understand.   The primary therapeutic effects of acupuncture are achieved through stimulation of the nervous system, which leads to sensory stimulation. This stimulation can overlap with techniques such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and spinal cord stimulation. Acupuncture also has local effects, such as the release of neuropeptides and an increase in local blood flow, improving functions like the salivary glands. Research has established that acupuncture can also result in the release of opioid peptides and serotonin in the spinal cord and brain. Its effects on musculoskeletal pain are likely a result of inhibiting the nociceptive pathway, activating the descending inhibitory pathways, and possibly influencing local trigger points.   There are many other aspects of acupuncture's effect on the central nervous system that are yet to be fully understood, such as its impact on nausea. Advancements in imaging technology, such as functional MRI and positron emission tomography, have provided compelling evidence of its effects on various brain centers related to pain control, such as the limbic structures and the insula. These effects are more pronounced compared to simple skin stimulation by needles and seem to be linked to eliciting the unique needling sensation. Myo-fascial pain is another area where acupuncture is widely used. While the condition remains a subject of debate, conventional medicine has done extensive research in this area. However, a satisfactory mode of action has yet to be identified." (White, A; 2009)

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