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Eur J Anaesthesiol. 2007 Apr;24(4):370-6. Epub 2006 Dec 8.

Minimal immunoreactive plasma beta-endorphin and decrease of cortisol at standard analgesia or different acupuncture techniques.

Author information

1
University of Giessen, Department of Anaesthesiology, Intensive Care, Pain Therapy, Palliative Medicine, Germany. heinz.harbach@chiru.med.uni-giessen.de

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE:

Acupuncture has been claimed to be associated with activation of the endogenous antinociceptive system. The analgesic effects of acupuncture have been ascribed to beta-endorphin interacting with opioid receptors. However, firstly, the release of beta-endorphin into the blood has been proven to be induced by stress, i.e. under dysphoric conditions, and, secondly, if released under stress, beta-endorphin has been shown not to be analgesic. Our aim was to test whether beta-endorphin immunoreactive material is released into the cardiovascular compartment during acupuncture comparing the most frequently used types of acupuncture with standard pain treatment under apparently low stress conditions.

METHODS:

This prospective study included 15 male patients suffering from chronic low back pain. beta-Endorphin immunoreactive material and cortisol were measured in the plasma of patients who underwent, in random order, therapy according to a standard pain treatment, traditional Chinese acupuncture, sham acupuncture, electro acupuncture and electro acupuncture at non-acupuncture points before, at and after the treatment. Statistical analysis was performed using two-way ANOVA with repeated measures.

RESULTS:

A decrease in plasma cortisol concentration measured over the five treatment protocols was highly significant (P < 0.001). The beta-endorphin immunoreactive material concentrations in plasma were minimal at all times and in all treatment conditions. The influence of treatments by various acupuncture procedures on cortisol and beta-endorphin immunoreactive material plasma concentrations over the three time points was not significantly different.

CONCLUSIONS:

beta-endorphin immunoreactive material in blood is not released by any type of acupuncture as tested under low stress conditions.

PMID:
17156512
DOI:
10.1017/S0265021506001906
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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