Guest writer for Wake Up World
More than 3 million Americans receive acupuncture each year, and its use is increasing. While there are a variety of acupuncture techniques, those typically used in the U.S. incorporate traditions from China, Japan and Korea and involve penetrating your skin with a thin needle at certain points on your body. The needle is then stimulated by hand or electrically.
Acupuncture has been in use for thousands of years around the globe, and it has withstood the test of time because itworks to safely relieve many common health complaints. How it works has remained largely a mystery, but last year researchers revealed a biochemical reaction that may be responsible for some of acupuncture’s beneficial effects.
An animal study looking into the effects of acupuncture on muscle inflammation revealed that manual acupuncture downregulates (or turns off) pro-inflammatory cells known as M1 macrophages. At the same time, it upregulates (or activates) anti-inflammatory M2 macrophages, thereby reducing pain and swelling.
This is an effective strategy because M2 macrophages are a source of anti-inflammatory interleukin-10 (IL-10), a cytokine involved in immune response. It’s thought that upregulating M2 macrophages leads to an increase in IL-10, which subsequently helps relieve pain and inflammation. The Epoch Times reported : “Acupuncture literally flips a switch wherein initial inflammatory responses are reduced and the secondary healing responses are promoted. M1 macrophage downregulation and M2 macrophage upregulation triggered by acupuncture was positively associated with reductions in muscle pain and inflammation.”
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