Published on 12-17-2019
Our body needs to keep a strong balance between helpful antioxidants, such as those found in plant based whole foods diets, and free radicals which have far more potential for damage. The body experiences "oxidative stress" when the balance of antioxidant activity is too low in relation to the activity of free radicals. While it is true that your body needs free radicals as they have important roles in immune function, when they start to overrun the body serious damage will happen. This process of oxidative stress is linked to aging in general and many increasingly common health issues including diabetes, cardiovascular conditions such as hypertension and heart disease, various cancers, and neurodegeneative diseases such as parkinson's and alzheimer's.
Moving towards a whole foods diet (study) and relaxation exercises such as tai chi (study) and meditation (study) are some research backed ways to work towards limiting the destructive changes from oxidative stress and associated inflammatory processes.
Acupuncture is well understood, both in research and in clinical outcomes, to benefit a broad range of inflammatory based conditions. And while there are literally volumes of research in support of acupuncture for many conditions and countless positive clinical experiences over hundreds if not thousands of years, the actual mechanisms in scientific terms as to how acupuncture is helping are still being explored.
To continue the exploration of the biochemical effects of acupuncture, researchers from the Kanazama Medical University in Ishikawa Japan recently conducted a study entitled "Acupuncture on ST36, CV4 and KI1 Suppresses the Progression of Methionine- and Choline-Deficient Diet-Induced Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Mice."
The model of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is an important one as research is leading towards understanding it as a multisystem disease (study) which is involved in many of the major health problems we face in our modern society (i.e. diabetes, cardiovascular issues, etc.).
Using an nonalcoholic fatty liver disease induced mouse model the researchers divided the mice into a true acupuncture treatment group and a sham needling group using nonacupoints. Due to their broad effects on the digestive system, liver function and general immune health (in Chinese Medicine terms), the researchers selected the following 3 acupuncture treatment points:
After performing acupuncture for two weeks, the researchers compared the sham acupuncture and the true acupuncture treatment groups. They found that while the sham group was looking jaundice, the acupuncture treatment group was observably healthier, showing a bright red color. In their blood the found the following:
The researchers concluded that "acupuncture repressed the progression of NAFLD by inhibiting inflammatory reactions, reducing oxidative stress, and promoting lipid metabolism of hepatocytes".
In actual clinical reality the points would be tailored to each individual using the important diagnostic tools available to a fully trained acupuncturist. However, these are very important points and any one of those points is likely to be part of many clinically applied protocols. It is interesting to note that some of the Chinese Medicine theory related phrases such as "qi defciency" and "descending qi" begin to take on a far less abstract or "non scientific" life when you read them in the context of what modern research is concluding that the points get the body to do. This is important to keep in mind when discussing acupuncture with non professionals as the specialized theoretical language of Chinese Medicine can lead others to discard the entire discussion as they do not have a deeper understanding of these relationships.
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