Current Research in Acupuncture

Written by Dr. Kelly Brown. Posted in Health.

Acupuncture,Integrative HealthOne in four people suffer from some type of chronic pain. Medications for chronic pain, specifically opioids, have gotten a lot of attention lately with the side effects, risks, and possibility of addiction. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently published opioid prescribing guidelines for medical professionals. The first of these guidelines states, “Nonpharmacologic therapy and nonopioid pharmacologic therapy are preferred for chronic pain,” . Suggested therapies include acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage.
Current Research in Acupuncture

Recently, a review of acupuncture research was published by the Acupuncture Now Foundation (ANF). The paper is titled: “Acupuncture: More than Pain Management.” Chronic pain was one topic this paper addresses, other topics include depression, infertility, and seasonal allergies.

Acupuncture and Pain

Any pain in Chinese medicine is considered stagnation of Qi, a vital substance that runs through the body and channels. Consider traffic on I-95. On a normal day, with no accidents everyone moves smoothly. However, if there is an accident, there are delays with moving the accident, waiting for ambulances, police officers, and/or tow trucks. Plus, there are delays with people looking at the accident. Generally, past the accident there is a smooth traffic flow. The back-up leading up to it grows until the accident is cleared and normal flow is returned. The incident causing pain in this analogy is the accident and acupuncture’s effect on the normal flow of Qi is the emergency workers clearing the accident.
Therefore, acupuncture is effective at removing the blockage and promoting a normal flow of Qi, improving circulation, and decreasing pain. For chronic pain, needles are usually placed in the area of pain and above and below the area to support proper Qi and blood flow in the area. The ANF paper states,
“Out of all of these non-drug therapies, only acupuncture has been shown through extensive animal research to actually stimulate the production of ‘endogenous opiods’ - the body’s own natural opiate-like substances...and therefore provide an important alternative to synthetic opioids,”
This is exciting information for chronic pain sufferers! Acupuncture is helping the brain to perceive less pain without medication. Additionally, acupuncture has an anti-inflammatory effect that is helpful in treating chronic pain, as well as other inflammatory disorders.

Acupuncture and Depression

Current research on mental health is finding depression is an inflammatory process in the brain. Studies on acupuncture’s effects on depression have shown promising changes in the body and brain. Acupuncture research shows reversal of depressive symptoms with acupuncture that are similar to antidepressant medications. One study showed “acupuncture had antidepressant-like effects, and its mechanism of action appeared to involve the inhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokines,” It can also improve symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some Veteran’s Affairs facilities offer acupuncture for both pain relief and depression symptoms.

Acupuncture and Infertility

Acupuncture’s effects on infertility have been studied most recently in conjunction with assisted reproduction therapy (ART). One study had two groups, one received acupuncture and ART, and one only received ART. In the group with both treatments, successful pregnancy was documented in 42.5%. The group that did not receive acupuncture documented 26.3% successful pregnancy. In a research review for acupuncture and female reproduction, “acupuncture was shown to regulate uterine and ovarian blood flow (OBF), which can encourage a thicker uterine wall and improve embryo implantation,” Acupuncture is also safe during pregnancy to reduce symptoms, such as morning sickness, headaches, and fatigue.
Male infertility can also be helped with acupuncture. “In a recent animal study, electro-acupuncture was found to enhance germ cell proliferation...and may restore normal semen parameters in subfertile patients,” . Points are usually located on the abdomen arms and legs with fertility treatments for both men and women.
All of the above conditions are able to be treated with acupuncture. There are many more complaints that respond favorably to this therapy. If you wonder whether acupuncture can help you, schedule an appointment with an acupuncturist today!

Dr. Kelly Brown is a chiropractor and acupuncturist with Pure Wellness. She received both a Doctorate in Chiropractic and a Masters in Acupuncture from New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls, NY. Dr. Brown is a life-long resident of DE and is glad to be back in the area serving the community. You can contact her at the office 302.365.5470 or through the website

Works Cited:
Bauer,M., L.Ac., & Koppelman, M.H., MSc. (2016). Acupuncture: More than pain management. Retrieved June 14, 2016, from
Dowell D, Haegerich TM, Chou R. (2016) CDC Guidline for prescribing opiods for chronic pain – United States. Retrieved July 12, 2016, from>drugoverdose>pdf
To read the full ANF White Papers you can go to . Navigate the site and learn more!
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