A Brief Overview of Electro Acupuncture

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A Brief Overview of Electro Acupuncture

Electro-acupuncture employs the use of a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine which is connected to the tips of acupuncture needles to send a minute current into the the body. As our body naturally operates by a system of electrical signals, this is extremely effective for a wide range of conditions and can provide a more effective treatment for certain conditions that just the needles alone. Different aspects of the body such as neurotransmitters, chemical receptors, central and peripheral nerves all respond to different frequencies of electrical signals. The TENS machine can therefore be set to the corresponding frequencies depending on the type of condition being treated for a more effective response.

electroacupuncture for tendonitis

As a result of a great deal of acupuncture research since the 1950’s, it has been well-documented that acupuncture can produce analgesic effects by increasing the production and release of opioid peptides in the central nervous system (1). These opioid peptides have profound effects on the body such as potent analgesia, regulation of visceral functions and modulation of the immune system (2). 

Electro acupuncture (EA) has been found to down-regulate the expression of certain receptors which are involved in generating pain signals (3), as well as inhibiting cell activation that occurs during the inflammatory response and neuropathic pain (4).

electroacupuncture for sprained ankle

It has been found that EA provided at 2 Hz stimulates the release of beta-endorphin, enkephalin and endomorphin within the central nervous system, while  EA at 100 Hz releases dynorphin (5). Why does this matter? These endogenous opioids play very important roles in pain relief within the body as beta-endorphins are 18 to 33 times more potent than morphine (6), while dynorphins are 200 more potent than morphine and 50 times more powerful than beta-endorphins (7).

  1. Wu, S, Leung, A & Yew, D 2016, ‘Acupuncture for Detoxification in Treatment of Opioid Addiction’, East Asian Arch Psychiatry, No. 26, pp. 70 – 76, www.ebsco.com, viewed 15 January 2017, p. 71

  2. Lin, L, Skakavac, N, Lin, X, Lin, D, Borlongan, M, Borlongan, C & Cao, C 2016, ‘Acupuncture-Induced Analgesia: The Role of Microglial Inhibition’, Cell Transplantation, Vol. 25, pp. 621–628, viewed 21 April 2017, http://www.ingentaconnect.com/contentone/cog/ct/2016/00000025/00000004/art00003?crawler=true&mimetype=application/pdf, p. 622

  3. Lin, J & Chen, W 2008, ‘Acupuncture Analgesia: A Review of Its Mechanisms of Actions’, The American Journal of Chinese Medicine, Vol. 36, No. 4, 635–645, viewed 21 April 2017, http://www.encognitive.com/files/Acupuncture%20Analgesia::%20A%20Review%20of%20Its%20Mechanisms%20of%20Actions.pdf, p. 640

  4. Lin et al. loc.cit. p. 625

  5. Lin & Chen loc.cit. p. 637

  6. Loh, H, Tseng, L, Wei, E & Li 1976, ‘beta-endorphin is a potent analgesic agent’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 73, No. 8, pp. 2895–2898, viewed 22 April 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC430793/

  7. Stanford University Medical Centre 1979, ‘Stanford University Medical Centre News Bureau’, Stanford Medicine Website’, viewed 20 April 2017, http://med.stanford.edu/content/dam/Timeline/legacy-1979_goldstein_A33.pdf

About the Author:

Chris Fehres lives in Brisbane and holds a Bachelor of Health Science majoring in acupuncture. Chris completed his degree in 2015 at Endeavour College of Natural Health where he graduated with distinction and was awarded the medal of academic excellence for highest achievement Australia-wide for acupuncture. He currently holds positions at Endeavour College as a contract tutor for higher education and alumni representative for the Course Advisory Committees for both the Acupuncture and Biosciences departments, as well as having been chosen as the focus for their 2017 - 18 Graduate Stories write up.

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