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Scientific Evidence Supports Acupuncture Benefits

University of Michigan researchers recently discovered some of the first scientific evidence backing the pain relieving benefits of acupuncture.

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine which has been used for over 2,000 years to promote health and alleviate pain. The therapy involves inserting small needles into the skin at very specific points on the body to open energy channels. There are over 1,000 acupuncture points on the body.

While countless people have seen positive results from acupuncture treatment for thousands of years, scientists have been hard pressed to find any solid scientific evidence to back the ancient practice.

In order to find such evidence, a team at Michigan University recently conducted a groundbreaking study which will appear in the September 2009 issue of NeuroImage.

The researchers scanned the brains of participants that either underwent real acupuncture treatment for 4 weeks or a sham acupuncture treatment which involved placing the needles at random points on the body.

They found that the participants who underwent the real acupuncture treatment had increases in the binding ability of receptors in regions of the brain that process and control pain signals.

Certain pain killers such as morphine and codeine work by binding these receptors as well.

The researchers suggest that these findings show acupuncture has the same pain relieving abilities as pharmaceutical pain killers.

Many people steer clear of acupuncture treatment because they worry it will be painful. In reality, acupuncture is not painful at all and, as this study shows, it is actually a method of unleashing your body's natural painkillers.

Previous studies have linked acupuncture to alleviating pain for patients following surgery, decreasing menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and reducing chemotherapy-induced nausea. Not only did acupuncture prove just as effective as modern medicine in these studies, it also resulted in less negative side effects.

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