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This is why acupuncture works

Date: 8.6.2010 

Acupuncture is a procedure which is practiced and taught at many places in the world. It´s based on inserting needles to various points on the body to relieve pain. The earliest written record of this method was in China in the second century B.C. Acupuncture has been subjected to multiple scientific research, but its effects are still controversial.akupunktura

Recently acupuncture has been subjected to a research of scientists at the University of Rochester. Their results were published in the journal Nature Neuroscience. According to this study the hero number one in the procedure is adenosine.

This ancient medical practice acts by stimulating the release of adenosine in the tissues involved, which interferes with the transmission of pain signals in the brain. Adenosine plays a main role in mediating the effects of acupuncture: it has been ascertained by a research performed by a neurobiologist Maiken Nedergaard and his colleagues at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Adenosine is a nucleoside composed of one molecule of adenine attached to a ribose. It plays an important role in many processes in the human body. In the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) acts as an energy transfer and as cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) works in the signal transduction. Adenosin is also an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It´s known to participate in the mechanisms of sleep regulation. It has also a function on the heart and anti-inflammatory properties. 

But it´s believed that adenosine is also produced in the skin where it has also analgesic effects, which are very important during injury by inhibiting transmission of pain signals.

"Acupuncture has been one of the key methods of medical treatment in some parts of the world for many years, but because of the fact that the mechanisms haven´t been explained yet, many people remained skeptical," said Nedergaard. "In this paper we provide new information based on a physical mechanism by which acupuncture relieves pain in the body."

In the experiment, a group of mice with pain in their legs was subjected to acupunture in appropriate locations by the researchers. They noted that in the specimens, that were capable of producing adenosine, the treatment reduced the problem by two-thirds rated on a scale of functionality, and that during and immediately after the acupuncture treatment the levels of adenosine in the tissues were 24 times higher than normal.

The improvement however was not observed in mice, which were also suffering from pain in their legs, but were genetically altered so that their cells were unable to produce adenosine receptors. Finally, the disturbance was reduced also by activating the adenosine without really using acupuncture.

Then the researchers tested the effects of deossicoformicina, a drug used to treat certain kinds of leukemia, which has the ability to inhibit the degradation of adenosine in tissues. The result of this test was that the effects of acupuncture were significantly enhanced: the tripling of levels of adenosine in the mucose matched by an equally significant prolongation of the analgesic.

Překlad: Pavla Čermáková

Zdroj: http://lescienze.espresso.repubblica.it








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