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Yale J Biol Med. 1978 Jan-Feb;51(1):55-65.

Recent advances in the understanding of acupuncture.


The controversy about acupuncture is familiar to us since its recent reintroduction into this country. Much of its philosophical concepts were taken at their face values as the bases for condemnation. Since I last reviewed these antiquated concepts in the light of modern medicine, much has developed. It seems that if the effects of acupuncture were transmitted along the peripheral nerves to the central nervous system, it would be more effective if applied segmentally to the site of noxious stimulation. Disruption of extralamniscal pathways would abolish its analgesic effect. The distant and nonsegmentally located acupuncture points exert their influences through the integrative efforts of the reticular formation and the thalamus. The demonstration of transmissibility of acupuncture analgesia through blood and cerebrospinal fluid in animals implicates the involvement of humoral factors. Since such an effect can be suppressed by naloxone or by hypophysectomy, endorphins are thought to be involved. Such laboratory evidences indeed begin to shed some light on a possible neurohumoral mechanism of acupuncture. The differences between acupuncture and hypnosis are discussed. Acupuncture points were compared with referred pain, trigger points and motor points of the skeletal muscles. Its possible uses for other than pain, such as drug addiction, alcoholism, etc. are also reviewed.

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