... The controlled animal study had four arms:
Two studies examined different times of application - the first, having acupuncture regularly, and the latest study examining acupuncture during a stressful event - which, Dr. Eshkevari says, "is how acupuncture is most often utilized clinically."
- A group of rats getting acupuncture via electro-acupuncture (a device that ensures equitable distribution of electro-stimulation)
- A group receiving sham acupuncture (not at an acupuncture point)
- Placebo arm not getting any acupuncture
- Control group with exposure to neither stress nor acupuncture.
Electro-acupuncture delivered to the St36 acupuncture point minutes after the rats were exposed to chronic painful cold was as effective in preventing elevation of stress hormones as it was with pre-treatment with acupuncture.
The new study also used a drug to block acupuncture's effect on the HPA system - production of stress hormones equalized in all the treatment groups. "This confirmed that electro-acupuncture does affect the HPA system," concludes Dr. Eshkevari.
"This is the first report linking the effects of electro-acupuncture at St36 to chronic stress-induced depressive and anxious behavior in animals" - acupuncture appeared to prevent stress-induced release of hormones, as well as reduce depression and anxiety-like behavior in the rats.