Research confirms that acupuncture reduces pain levels. The researchers found that electro acupuncture reduced pain by regulating the expression of many proteins in the hypothalamus, the part of the brain responsible for the autonomic nervous system, the endocrine system and the functions of the parietal system. A total of 17 hypothalamic proteins showed significant changes as a result of electro acupuncture stimulation to treat pain.
The acupuncture points selected for the study were ST 36 ( Zusanli ) and GB 34 ( Yanglingquan ). Electro acupuncture at these points drastically reduced pain by enriching three gene ontologies and regulating the glycolysis-gluconeogenesis-hexose metabolism pathway. The researchers point out that electroacupuncture reduces pain by regulating the expression of numerous proteins in the hypothalamus.
These findings support other research into the relationship between acupuncture and brain chemistry. The researchers found that both electro acupuncture and conventional acupuncture improved menstruation and reduced circulating androgens in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Acupuncture normalizes estrogen activity and reduces excessive androgen levels. Acupuncture showed changes in the central opioid receptors of the hypothalamus, suggesting that it may be mediated by the central opioid receptors. Conventional acupuncture has shown changes in hypothalamic steroid receptors, suggesting that it may help regulate steroid hormone peptide receptors.
Another study, which focused on the ability of acupuncture to reduce carpal tunnel pain, discovered a pathway in the brain through which acupuncture exerts its therapeutic effect. The researchers assessed the brain's response to neuropathic pain using fMRI technology .Acupuncture caused significant activation of the hypothalamus and greater deactivation of the amygdala.
A study on weight loss found that acupuncture controls the expression of leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite and metabolism. The researchers observed that electroacupuncture leads to a decrease in body weight, a decrease in plasma leptin levels and an increase in the expression of the leptin receptor in the hypothalamus. Similar findings show that acupuncture regulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. The researchers found that applying acupuncture to ST 36 reduces the production of stress hormones through this cortical pathway. Acupuncture prevented the firing of the sympathetic nervous system, but also the increased secretion of corticosteroid hormone ( ACTH) ) and cortisol.