A study published in November suggests acupuncture has measurable effects on the patient’s brain, and is not merely a placebo as some critics believe.
Researchers at the Department of Complementary and Integrative Medicine at University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany analyzed brain scans from 18 volunteers who underwent electric shocks, according to The Telegraph.
First, the test subjects were shocked without acupuncture, and then shocked while acupuncture needles were placed between the toes, below the knee and near the thumb.
When scientists compared the scans, they found that acupuncture had the effect of the amount of pain the patient felt, as well as affecting areas of the brain that control expectations and comprehension of pain.
“Our findings support that both these nonspecific and specific mechanisms exist, suggesting that acupuncture can help relieve pain,” said Dr. Nina Theysohn, who presented the research in Chicago on Tuesday.