The efficiency of acupuncture was proved by a study which showed that this ancient therapy can cure sepsis, a common condition caused by infections and inflammation. This condition, which is widely spread among intensive care units, causes more than 200.000 deaths in US every year. Apart from this, the study had showed significant results on inflammatory process and may lead to the development of a cure for sepsis.
A New Therapy
Acupuncture is a new therapy for Western countries, but Eastern civilizations had used it for centuries to treat any kind of condition, from a sore throat to a major open wound. Acupuncture works by stimulating certain nerve centers on the body with the help of a thin needle, which can be inserted in a skin pore without damaging the skin. Acupuncture is painless.
Stimulating the Vagus Nerve
Researchers already knew that stimulating the vagus nerve can help the body reduce the inflammation, so they rely on this on their study. They applied electroacupuncture on mice with sepsis to analyze the efficiency of acupuncture. Electroacupuncture stimulates nerves by small electrical shocks, at a low power, which is not dangerous nor life-threatening.
Half of the Mice Lived
Half of the mice with sepsis were not treated with electroacupuncture, while the other half received small shocks. In the first group all the mice died, but in the second, only half of them died, proving that electroacupuncture did had an effect on them.
Adrenal Glands Involved in Acupuncture
The effectiveness of acupuncture can be altered by the function of the adrenal glands. Researchers discovered that electroacupuncture was not effective on mice which had their adrenal glands removed, so it may not help humans, as sepsis decreases adrenal gland’s function.
But researchers went on with their study and discovered that acupuncture is linked to dopamine levels. Dopamine affects the immune system, but it is not effective on its own. It needs to be mixed with fenoldopam, a drug which mimics the effects of dopamine and can stop the inflammation to develop in the body.
Possible Treatment for Inflammations
This study had showed significant results of acupuncture in treating inflammatory processes and proved it can be used to treat or ease the pain in osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease. However, fenoldopam was effective when used on its own, so it may open the path for developing a drug treatment for sepsis.