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Research Archive

Welcome to our Chinese medicine and acupuncture research news pages. We add to the content of these pages continuously as more research news comes in. Browse through the complete archive below or use the category links on the right.

Please note that the most twenty recent research archive items are free to view but access to the thousands of items in the archive require a journal subscription.

Acupuncture is now supported by a broad range of surveys of safety, clinical trials and basic science studies of physiological action.

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Acupuncture is a cost-effective treatment modality, according to Korean authors who performed a systematic review of economic evaluations carried out alongside randomised controlled trials.

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An Australian systematic review has found preliminary support for the use of acupuncture as a means to enhance exercise performance and post-exercise recovery.

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Up until now, the placebo effect has seemed to make no sense…if people are able to heal themselves unaided, why does the body wait for a sugar pill to prompt recovery?

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A review by an Italian author has examined the placebo effect in terms of the ‘therapeutic ritual’ created around the patient and how this plays a crucial role in the therapeutic outcome.

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A review paper from authors based in Hong Kong gives an overview of research into the mechanisms of acupuncture and proposes a new theory of the channels and the flow of qi and blood, based on the latest findings in medical imaging, cell biology and physiology.

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A review paper by Chinese authors has focused on the neurophysiological basis of the effects of Neiguan P-6 stimulation on cardiovascular mechanisms.

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Japanese investigators have used colour doppler ultrasound imaging (CDI) to non-invasively evaluate haemodynamic changes caused by acupuncture.

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Blood perfusion at the acupoint Hegu L.I.-4 increases when the contralateral Hegu L.I.-4 is stimulated by acupuncture, according to Chinese team.

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An international team, consisting of acupuncturists, doctors, patients, researchers and medical insurance company representatives has produced a consensus document aimed at those conducting comparative effectiveness research (CER) trials in acupuncture.

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Acupuncture is cost-effective for the treatment of chronic pain, according to a systematic review carried out by UK researchers.

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A UK-based study looking at acupuncture carried out in a busy GP practice by an experienced traditional acupuncturist, found that it resulted in clinically relevant improvements in patients

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Using fMRI, Chinese researchers have shown that the organisation of functional brain networks is altered after acupuncture and that these alterations exhibit point specificity.

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Researchers from South Korea have found clinical evidence for an anti-fatigue effect of indirect moxibustion and suggest that the effect could be because the technique acts like an anti

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A review article from American authors focuses on clinical and laboratory studies supporting the existence of point specificity in acupuncture, but also addresses studies that do not support this concept.

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The concept of the ‘neural acupuncture unit’ (NAU) has been put forward by an international team of authors as a new way of interpreting the effects and mechanisms of acupuncture.

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A discussion paper by a team of American authors argues that the ability of acupuncture to affect heart rate variability (HRV) might explain how it is able to regulate complex physiological systems.

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A study by German and US authors has revealed a high degree of variation in the localisation of acupuncture points, and suggests that the term 'acupuncture field' may in fact be more appropriate.

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A group of UK authors has used a qualitative approach to examine in detail how participants in an RCT, conducted in the USA, conceptualised placebos.

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A systematic review has investigated the effect of patient expectancy on treatment responses to acupuncture.

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A systematic review has concluded that the non-specific effects of sham acupuncture are likely to bring tangible benefits to patients, compared with no treatment.

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An international team of authors has conducted a systematic overview of studies that have used fMRI to investigate brain responses to acupuncture, concluding that it can affect a broad network of regions involving somatosensory, affective and cognitive processing.

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Acupuncture at Taixi KID-3 can enhance activity in brain areas associated with memory in patients suffering from mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

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A Chinese fMRI study has found that stimulation of the acupuncture points Guanyuan REN-4 and Zhongwan REN-12 has an effect on functional brain networks associated with emotional and cognitive regulation.

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Manual stimulation of the acupoints Zusanli ST-36 and Neiguan P-6 can influence gastric myoelectrical and cardiac activities in healthy volunteers.

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Electro-acupuncture at Hegu L.I.-4 can specifically decrease the pain sensitivity of the mandibular area, according to Japanese researchers.

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A case report from Taiwan warns that direct puncture of a metastatic lymph node by an acupuncture needle has led to cutaneous spread of the tumour.

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An international collaboration, involving some of the UK’s top acupuncture researchers, has provided definitive evidence that acupuncture is effective for chronic pain.

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A qualitative study from the UK has analysed how self-care advice is constructed in traditional acupuncture consultations.

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A meta-analysis of studies evaluating the effect of acupuncture on in vitro fertilization (IVF) outcomes has concluded that the type of control procedure used can affect study outcomes.

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Acupuncture and sham acupuncture appear equally effective in preventing migraines, according to a large clinical study published by an international research team, although real acupuncture may have longer-lasting effects.

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A major national survey of practitioners of acupuncture in the UK provides an up-to-date overview of the profession and concludes that acupuncture provides a substantial contribution to the country

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Do the effects of acupuncture depend on the needling, the consultation or the practitioner? Researchers based in the UK have attempted to answer this question by quantifying the specific and non-specific effects of acupuncture on osteoarthritic (OA) pain.

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An animal experiment has shown that acupuncture at Zusanli ST-36 can block the production of neuropeptide Y (NPY), a molecule produced by the sympathetic nervous system in response to chronic stress.

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Researchers in Austria have shown that manual acupressure at the auricular Heart acupoint can affect cardiac and autonomic nervous system function.

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Auricular acupuncture (AA) can enhance athletes' recovery after strenuous exercise, suggests the results of a Taiwanese study.

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Chinese research has confirmed that the irritability of a myofascial trigger point in the upper trapezius muscle can be suppressed by needling remote acupoints.

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Acupoint electrical stimulation (AES) can effectively reduce postoperative pain and analgesic usage, according to an RCT carried out in Taiwan.

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An RCT carried out by Swedish researchers has found that acupuncture which causes deqi and sham acupuncture are experienced by patients as equally effective at treating radiotherapy-induced nausea.

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Auricular acupuncture (AA) can enhance athletes' recovery after strenuous exercise, suggests the results of a Taiwanese study.

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Skin impedance measured at points on the Lung channel may correlate with asthma status, say Hong Kong scientists.

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Patients with low-back pain (LBP) are less likely to visit physicians for LBP after receiving acupuncture treatment, leading to reduced healthcare spending on LBP.

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Electro-acupuncture (EA) stimulation at Guangming GB-37 and Jiaoxin KID-8 induce distinct response patterns in the brain.

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A paper by Ted Kaptchuk suggests that, rather than being non-specific, placebo effects are in fact the 'specific' effects of healing rituals.

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Differences in psychosocial context between RCTs and usual practice could reduce the impact of acupuncture in RCT settings and may lead to under-reporting of benefit by patients in trials, according to a UK study.

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Blood supply to the Achilles tendon can be increased by treating the contralateral tendon with either acupuncture or a heat pack.

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Transcutaneous electrical stimulation (Acu-TENS) applied at Neiguan P-6 can facilitate an earlier return of haemodynamic parameters to pre-operative values in patients who have undergone acute heart surgery. A Chinese study randomly allocated 40 pati

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Depth of needle penetration is important for relief of exercise-induced muscular pain, according to a Japanese acupuncture study carried out on twenty-two healthy volunteers.

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A paper by Eric Manheimer questions the rationale behind use of sham acupuncture controls in trials of adjuvant acupuncture for in vitro fertilization (IVF).

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Researchers in Germany report that both real and sham laser acupuncture results in similar deqi sensations.

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In addition to enhancing muscle strength recovery after acute ischaemic stroke (IS), electroacupuncture (EA) appears to regulate the expression of multiple serum proteins that may be beneficial in this situation.

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A Harvard team including acupuncture scholar and researcher Ted Kaptchuk has found that placebo pills work even when patients know what they are taking.

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Acupuncture at Baihui DU-20 increases cerebral blood flow, according to a Japanese study.

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Laser stimulation of acupoints leads to activation of specific brain regions, with different patterns of neural activity for each acupuncture point.

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Patients experience enhanced touch sensations (ETS) as part of non-penetrating placebo acupuncture and these may be important in the ability of placebo needling to evoke a healing response.

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UK researchers have found acupuncture to have significant and sustained benefit for patients who frequently attend GP surgeries with medically unexplained physical symptoms (MUPS).

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Japanese style, superficial acupuncture (SA) has measurable and specific effects on the brain, according to Korean scientists.

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Japanese researchers have found strong evidence that the stimulation of Shanzhong REN-17 can specifically increase activity in the parasympathetic nerves of the heart.

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A German team has carried out a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials with the aim of investigating the size of non-specific effects associated with acupuncture interventions.

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Verum acupuncture has a significantly greater analgesic effect than non-penetrating sham acupuncture (NPSA), according to a group of European researchers (including Konrad Streitberger who developed the sham acupuncture needle).

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The analgesic benefits of acupuncture may be partially mediated through placebo effects related to the acupuncturist's behaviour, according to US researchers.

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US authors have conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies evaluating auricular acupuncture (AA) for pain management.

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Depth of needle penetration is important for relief of exercise-induced muscular pain, according to a Japanese acupuncture study carried out on twenty-two healthy volunteers.

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A paper by Eric Manheimer questions the rationale behind use of sham acupuncture controls in trials of adjuvant acupuncture for in vitro fertilization (IVF).

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UK researchers have found acupuncture to have significant and sustained benefit for patients who frequently attend GP surgeries with medically unexplained physical symptoms (MUPS).

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Edzard Ernst's latest paper on acupuncture continues his endeavours to demonstrate that acupuncture is both more harmful and less effective than is claimed.

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A Canadian study has compared the analgesic effect of conventional (high frequency) and acupuncture-like (low frequency) TENS between a group of opioid-treated patients and a group of opioid-naive patients

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Italian researchers have investigated the ‘dose’ of acupuncture that is necessary to achieve an adequate analgesic effect in patients with cervical myofascial pain syndrome (MPS)

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Research carried out by UK scientists suggests that the intensity of de qi has no effect on the pain relief obtained from acupuncture by patients with osteoarthritis (OA).

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Two new studies suggest that acupuncture may have different effects on men and women.

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A team from Japan has investigated the changes of blood flow in the radial and brachial arteries during acupuncture needling. Eighteen healthy volunteers received manual acupuncture bilaterally at Taichong LIV-3. Blood flow volume decreased significa

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A Norwegian study has investigated changes in the personal and professional use of acupuncture among physicians in Norway between 1994 and 2004. The results showed that the percentage of physicians having used acupuncture for their own complaints had

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A new paper by American authors suggests that the reduced electrical impedances measured at acupuncture meridians are significantly associated with subcutaneous collagenous bands.
Previous research has suggested that acupuncture meridians are ph

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The understanding of how acupuncture’s analgesic effects are mediated has been significantly improved, thanks to a paper from American authors. The team has, for the first time, identified the molecule adenosine as being potentially responsible

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A new version of the STRICTA (Standards for Reporting Interventions in Clinical Trials of Acupuncture) checklist has been published, setting out revised and expanded reporting guidelines for clinical trials of acupuncture. The new STRICTA checklist i

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A single acupuncture treatment can increase isometric quadriceps strength, according to German authors. Thirty-three recreational athletes were randomised to receive acupuncture, sham acupuncture (needling at non-acupuncture points) and placebo laser

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The way acupuncturists interact with patients has significant effects on pain reduction. In an American randomised controlled trial, acupuncturists were trained to interact in one of two communication styles that conveyed either 'high' or 'neutral

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The relationship between patients’ expectations of acupuncture and their outcomes may be more complex than previously believed. When US investigators analysed data from a randomised trial of acupuncture for chronic back pain, they found that pre-tr

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Acupuncture induces objectively measurable anaesthesia on both the treated and untreated sides of the body. In a German study, twenty-four healthy volunteers received three different forms of acupuncture - manual acupuncture, low-frequency electroacu

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Not only does acupuncture enhance immunity, telling subjects that it does so increases the benefit. Sixty healthy volunteers were randomised to receive acupuncture at Quchi L.I.-11 (groups one and two) or relaxation (group three) twice a week for

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Acupuncture that elicits deqi has a deactivating effect on specific areas of the brain associated with pain processing. A UK team has investigated the effect of deqi and acute pain needling sensations on brain fMRI blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD)

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In order to clarify whether acupuncture is more effective than placebo for pain relief, two British authors have combined evidence gathered from systematic reviews of high-quality RCTs that compared acupuncture with sham acupuncture for chronic pain

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Two prospective surveys conducted among different groups of professionals in the UK, including doctors, physiotherapists and practitioners primarily trained in acupuncture, monitored adverse events to acupuncture over a defined period of time. A tota

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Acupuncture significantly increases the concentration of nitric oxide (NO, a key biological signalling molecule involved in vasodilation and neurotransmission) in local body tissues. In a randomised, double-blind, crossover study, 20 volunteers under

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Subtle differences in needle manipulation techniques can affect the cellular response of connective tissue to acupuncture. American researchers subjected subcutaneous tissue samples from mice to varying amounts of bidirectional needle rotation, befor

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Research has shown that the parasympathetic nervous system, and in particular the vagus nerve, plays an important part in the regulation of the immune system. A new review explains the neuroimmunoendocrine mechanisms that underlie this interaction

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Two different imaging methods have provided evidence for the existence of acupuncture channels. In one Chinese study, the optical transport properties along the Pericardium channel path and a parallel non-channel path one centimetre away from it w

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An experimental study has been carried out using fMRI to characterise the nature and cause of the sensations experienced during deqi. Manual acupuncture was performed at Hegu L.I.-4, Zusanli ST-36 and Taichong LIV-3 during fMRI in 42 acupuncture-naiv

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Both deep and superficial needling of acupuncture points appear to elicit similar responses in the brain. Volunteers were needled either superficially or deeply at L.I.-4 Hegu, while their brains underwent fMRI scanning, which calculates the activity

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Japanese researchers have investigated the effect of acupuncture on the human immune system. They measured CD-positive cell counts and cytokine expression levels in the peripheral blood of fifteen healthy volunteers before and after acupuncture, to d

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A qualitative study carried out by researchers at the University of York has investigated the role of self-help advice in traditional acupuncture care. Six acupuncturists were interviewed about the treatments they provided within a pragmatic clinical

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Lack of agreement on the optimal acupuncture treatment for any particular condition makes the negative results of sham controlled trials difficult to interpret and may mean that patients do not receive the best treatment. Researchers from Plymouth

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Chinese researchers have compared the infrared radiation spectra of Neiguan P-6 in coronary heart disease (CHD) patients and healthy volunteers, to see if patients’ acupoints carry distinctive pathological information. A highly sensitive infrare

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An analysis of studies published on acupuncture and myofascial pain therapy demonstrates that acupuncture points and trigger points are anatomically and clinically similar in their uses for treatment of pain disorders. This refutes an earlier stud

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An Australian group has proposed electrodermal activity (EDA) as a possible physiological marker for acupuncture. A group of 60 healthy female volunteers were randomly assigned to an experimental group (acupuncture) or a control group (no acupuncture

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Japanese researchers have investigated whether acupuncture stimulation affects autonomic nerve function by measuring pupil diameters with electronic pupillography. Experiment 1 examined responses before, during and after acupuncture in 12 healthy mal

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In an American study, fifteen healthy subjects were evaluated with magnetoencephalography (MEG) to map the location and timing of brain activity during low-frequency electroacupuncture (EA) and non-penetrating sham acupuncture (SA) using a metal fila

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A US study used fMRI to analyse the effects on the brain of manual acupuncture stimulation at Erjian L.I.-2, a point commonly used to treat xerostomia (dry mouth due to lack of saliva). Twenty healthy volunteers received true and sham acupuncture in

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Studies using fMRI to look at brain activity before and after acupuncture suggest that it is capable of affecting the resting state of the brain in a sustained manner. Stimulation of Neiguan P-6 was carried out for 150 seconds using either verum m

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