For many years now, researchers have been looking at how acupuncture works for pain relief. Often these acupuncture studies will use an fMRI scanner that tracks activity and blood flow in the brain.
A recent study coming out of Germany, which was presented yesterday at the Radiological Society of North America, at the showed that acupuncture regulates the pain mechanism in brain as well as the expectation of pain relief in the brain.
Normal people without pain received electric shocks on one of their feet. On the other foot, they used acupuncture to try to block this pain reaction. Looking at the scan of the brain, it showed that the acupuncture effectively blocked the sensation of the pain in the brain.
These results are exciting, further support acupuncture has a real physiological effect on the body for pain relief. I am very excited that many acupuncture researchers in the future are not only looking at the brain scan of acute pain, but also the long term changes that happen in the central nervous system and throughout the body from acupuncture treatment.