Acupuncture And Its Surprising Link To Cannabis

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Acupuncture And Its Surprising Link To Cannabis

Many have a tendency to dismiss the effectiveness of acupuncture out of hand, but as it turns out it can be effective - what’s more, it may work in ways similar to cannabis.

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese therapy that has been in use for thousands of years. It involves the insertion of very fine needles into a patient’s skin in various parts of the body, to various depths. It is believed that by doing this, it is possible to relieve stress and pain, but up until now, no one has been really scientifically sure how it works. It turns out, the needles may be activating cannabinoid receptors.

Traditionally, it was believed that acupuncture points are located along the meridians through which „chi“ - life energy - runs; but of course, there is no scientific or biological evidence for this. As a result, acupuncture has been treated with controversy and a degree of scepticism by the west.

New research links Acupuncture to the endocannabinoid system

To better understand the effects of acupuncture, a team of Chinese researchers set out to investigate how it effects the body of arthritic rats. More specifically, they investigated how electroacupuncture effects the body. Electroacupuncture is a process in which a mild electric current is connected to the metal needles that are inserted into the body, passing the electric current through the muscles. It has been shown to be a very effective method of treating inflammatory pain. By analysing the effects of this treatment at a molecular level, they found that electroacupuncture activated a strong response from CB1 receptors – parts of the endocannabinoid system that help us deal with inflammation and pain, the same receptors that are activated by cannabis.

The process of electro acupuncture appears to increase the amount of CB1 receptors with the part of the brain called the striatum. This research confirmed that electroacupuncture had the same effect in this regard as increasing the amount of dopamine receptors in the same way that cannabis does – a very interesting development. What is not clear is how dopamine is related to pain relief.
What this research has shown is that the effect of acupuncture is very closely linked and similar to the medicinal effects of cannabis. More research is needed, but replications of the study have backed up these findings. It is yet another piece of research that shows how the endocannabinoid systems within our bodies can be activated for our betterment, and if acupuncture is fine and legal, surly cannabis should be as well!

The research paper has been published and is available on the US National Library of Medicine.