Acupuncture Really Does Work against Pain, Say Scientists

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Byline: ROBIN YAPP

MORE than 2,500 years after it was first practised, scientists say they have proof that acupuncture works.

A study has found that the use of the needles stimulates a part of the brain involved in managing and dealing with pain and can have a similar effect to taking painkillers.

Experts from Southampton University and University College London selected 14 people with osteoarthritis and monitored their brains to see how they reacted to acupuncture.

Patients were randomly subjected to blunt needles that pricked only the surface, 'dummy' needles in which the tip was pushed back once it touched the skin, and real acupuncture needles.

They found that the real needles stimulated a part of the brain called the insula - involved in controlling the intensity of pain - more than the placebo did, improving pain relief by up to 15 per cent.

'This shows us that real acupuncture produces a demonstrable physiological effect over and above a simple skin prick,' said Dr George Lewith, of Southampton's Complementary Medicine Research Unit.

'The evidence we now have is that acupuncture works very well on pain.'

Acupuncture has been practised in Far Eastern countries for thousands of years and works on the principle of improving the overall health of a patient rather than concentrating on specific symptoms.

Traditional Chinese philosophy-is that health is dependent on balance in the body's two energy forces - yin and yang. …