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Physiol Meas. 2007 Oct;28(10):N77-86. Epub 2007 Sep 18.

Microcirculatory characteristics of acupuncture points obtained by laser Doppler flowmetry.

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Department of Electrical Engineering, Yuan Ze University, Taoyuan, Taiwan, Republic of China.


Acupuncture points (acupoints) form part of the meridian system that constitutes the most fundamental concept in oriental medicine, but their physiological basis has not been clarified. In this study we employed laser Doppler flowmetry (LDF) to extract the microcirculatory characteristics of acupoints and their surrounding tissues, and we interpreted the results from the viewpoint of microcirculatory physiology. Three groups of measurements were performed focusing on the following two important acupoints in oriental medicine in healthy volunteers (n = 13 for group A and n = 9 for groups B and C, respectively): Hoh-Ku (Li4, on the hand) and Ching-Ku (B64, on the foot). The two groups of measurements around Hoh-Ku (Groups A and B) were so designed as to examine the effect of the direction of the nonacupoint away from the acupoint, whereas comparison between the Hoh-Ku and the Ching-Ku measurements was to verify whether the phenomenon was consistent in the upper and the lower extremities. We found that the mean LDF signals were significantly larger at the acupoints than in their surrounding tissues (all p < 0.05), which indicates a larger blood supply into the microvascular beds of acupoints. The results indicate that the physical properties of the vascular structure of acupoints may affect the perfusion resistance, and thereby modulate the microcirculatory perfusion in accordance with tissue needs. This finding facilitates the localization of acupoints, helps in identifying the connection between microcirculatory physiology and responses to acupoint stimulation, and introduces an objective research method for understanding the mechanisms that underlie oriental medicine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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