Acupuncture Does Relieve Pain, Say Scientists
Byline: Fiona MacRae Science Reporter
IF YOU'RE a fan of acupuncture, you might just have a point, scientists said last night.
Scans show that sticking needles into a body calms brain cells used to process and perceive pain.
This suggests that the popular technique relieves pain, the researchers said.
The finding will provide a sense of vindication for those who have spent hundreds of pounds on acupuncture for bad backs, sprained ankles and other aches and pains.
And it will provide food for thought for detractors of the ancient Chinese art, including many scientists. They claim the benefits of the practice are all in the mind and that patients benefit from the 'placebo effect' in which care, attention and the simple belief that the treatment will work lead to improvements in health.
The research team from the University Hospital in Essen, Germany, studied whether giving acupuncture affected how the brain reacted to electric shocks.
Eighteen volunteers underwent sophisticated brain scans at the same time as an electric shock was applied to their left ankle.
Acupuncture needles were then placed at three places on the right side - between the toes, below the knee and near the thumb - and the electric current switched back on. …