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Acupuncture holds promise for treating inflammatory disease
Date:2/24/2014

When acupuncture first became popular in the western hemisphere it had its doubters. It still does. But over time, through detailed observation, scientists have produced real evidence that ancient Chinese practitioners of the medical arts were onto something.

Now new research documents a direct connection between the use of acupuncture and physical processes that could alleviate sepsis, a condition that often develops in hospital intensive care units, springs from infection and inflammation, and takes an estimated 250,000 lives in the United States every year.

"Sepsis is the major cause of death in the hospital," says Luis Ulloa, an immunologist at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School who led the study, which has been published by the journal Nature Medicine. "But in many cases patients don't die because of the infection. They die because of the inflammatory disorder they develop after the infection. So we hoped to study how to control the inflammatory disorder."

The researchers already knew that stimulation of one of the body's major nerves, the vagus nerve, triggers processes in the body that reduce inflammation, so they set out to see whether a form of acupuncture that sends a small electric current through that and other nerves could reduce inflammation and organ injury in septic mice. Ulloa explains that increasing the current magnifies the effect of needle placement, and notes that electrification is already FDA-approved for treating pain in human patients.

When the electroacupuncture was applied to mice with sepsis, molecules called cytokines that help limit inflammation were stimulated as predicted, and half of those mice survived for at least a week. There was zero survival among mice that did not receive acupuncture.

Ulloa and his team then probed further, to figure out exactly why the acupuncture treatments had succeeded. And they made a discovery that, on its face, was very disappointing.
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Contact: Rob Forman
robert.forman@rutgers.edu
973-972-7276
Rutgers University
Source:Eurekalert  

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