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Revista de la Sociedad Española del Dolor

versão impressa ISSN 1134-8046


COLLAZO, E.. Current basis of acupuncture therapy. Rev. Soc. Esp. Dolor [online]. 2012, vol.19, n.6, pp.325-331. ISSN 1134-8046.

Interest in the scientific basis of acupuncture has been increasing, as reflected by a dramatic rise in the number of scientific publications on medical and veterinary acupuncture. The mechanism of action remains unclear because it is not only one. Activation of the descending pain inhibitory system with spinal and supraspinal endorphin release as well as the involvement of other neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine have been analyzed. Acupuncture triggers a sequence of events involving the release of central endogenous opioid-like substances, as well as ACTH, vasopressin and cortisol, which modulate signals processed along the pathway and have effects on the immunoinflammatory response, the hypothalamic-pituitary axis and homeostasis. Central nervous system imaging techniques allow evaluate the events that occur after acupuncture-induced stimulation, including spinal gating and descending inhibitory pathways. The limbic system and thalamus play an important role in acupuncture-induced analgesia. Cortical somatosensory-evoked potentials have provided compelling evidence for the hypothesis that peripheral driver stimulation is the key element in producing propagated sensations along the meridians. Acupuncture has both local and distant analgesic effects that may be mediated by different mechanisms. The acupuncture points traditionally used for the treatment have a neuroanatomical significance from the viewpoint of western medicine; from that one can hypothesizes a plausible mechanism of action as to how acupuncture achieves its therapeutic effects in terms of contemporary western medicine.

Palavras-chave : Acupuncture; Electro acupuncture; Scientific basis; Analgesia; Nervous system.

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