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Home » BLOG » Acupuncture – ‘similar in action to psychiatric drugs’ – STUDY

Acupuncture – ‘similar in action to psychiatric drugs’ – STUDY

acupuncture-happyIn a controlled experiment with rats, acupuncture was found to be effective in treating chronic stress conditions, according to a report published in the Endocrinology journal – with the results suggesting a mode of action similar to that of anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs.

Researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) in Washington, DC, say the animal study “provides the strongest evidence to date on the mechanism of this ancient Chinese therapy against chronic stress.”

Lead investigator Ladan Eshkevari, PhD, associate professor in the departments of nursing, and pharmacology and physiology at GUMC, says:

“The benefits of acupuncture are well known by those who use it, but such proof is anecdotal.

“This research, the culmination of a number of studies, demonstrates how acupuncture might work in the human body to reduce stress and pain, and, potentially, depression.”

Dr. Eshkevari, a nurse anesthetist and licensed acupuncturist, adds:

“We have now found a potential mechanism, and at this point in our research, we need to test human participants in a blinded, placebo-controlled clinical study – the same technique we used to study the behavioral effects of acupuncture in rats.”

Dr. Eshkevari and her team applied electro-acupuncture to a powerful acupuncture point called stomach meridian point 36

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(St36).

The researchers discovered the activity in the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis blunted – and so did the chronic stress pathway associated with chronic pain, the immune system, mood and emotions.

Treating HPA with acupuncture reduced the production of stress hormones. “Some antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs exert their therapeutic effects on these same mechanisms,” Dr. Eshkevari says.

She has already shown that pre-treatment with acupuncture prevents increases in HPA hormones caused by cold-induced painful stress in rats, and that the beneficial effects were long-lasting.

The new study also used a drug to block acupuncture’s effect on the HPA system – production of stress hormones equalized in all the treatment groups. “This confirmed that electro-acupuncture does affect the HPA system,” concludes Dr. Eshkevari.

“This is the first report linking the effects of electro-acupuncture at St36 to chronic stress-induced depressive and anxious behavior in animals” – acupuncture appeared to prevent stress-induced release of hormones, as well as reduce depression and anxiety-like behavior in the rats.

“This work provides a framework for future clinical studies on the benefit of acupuncture, both before or during chronic stressful events,” Dr. Eshkevari says.

Source: Medical News Today

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