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Am J Chin Med. 1998 ; 26(1): 1-11.

Modulation of cerebral cortex in acupuncture stimulation: a study using sympathetic skin response and somatosensory evoked potentials.

Hsieh CL.

School of Chinese Medicine, China Medical College, Taichung, Taiwan.

Although acupuncture has been widely used for treating disorders, its therapeutic mechanism remains unclear. In order to study the physiological mechanism of acupuncture stimulation, both palm recordings of sympathetic skin response (SSR) were evoked by electrical stimulation of the right median nerve on 13 normal adult volunteers. Median nerve evoked short-latency somatosensory evoked potential (SEPs) recordings were taken at least one week after SSR recording. The latencies and amplitudes were calculated. N13 component was obtained from Cv7, and N20 and P25 were from somatosensory cortex. The control did not receive acupuncture stimulation. Acupuncture needles were inserted into both Zusanli (St-36) acupoints as follows: 1) manual acupuncture (MA): using fingers to twist the acupuncture needle until so-called Der-Qi was obtained, 2) 2 Hz electroacupuncture (EA): 2 Hz square-wave electrical pulses were applied between the Zusanli needle and the Shangjuxu (St-37) needle bilaterally. Our results indicated that the mean latencies of SSR were largest during 2 Hz EA followed by MA stimulation, whereas the period of control exhibited the shortest mean latencies. In contrast, the mean amplitudes of SSR were smallest during the period of 2Hz EA, followed by the period of MA, and the period of control exhibited the largest mean amplitudes of SSR. The latencies of N13, N20 and P25 remained unchanged, but the amplitudes of P25 were largest during the period of 2Hz EA, followed by the period of MA; the period of control exhibited the smallest mean amplitudes of SEPs. The results suggest that acupuncture stimulation of both Zusanli acupoints inhibited SSR, which implies that the cerebral cortex contributed at least in part to this inhibition. The stimulation effect of 2Hz EA is stronger than MA.

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