Unanticipated Insights into Biomedicine from the Study of Acupuncture.

Author: MacPherson H1, Hammerschlag R2,3, Coeytaux RR4,5, Davis RT6, Harris RE7, Kong JT8, Langevin HM9, Lao L10,11, Milley RJ2, Napadow V12,13,14, Schnyer RN15, Stener-Victorin E16, Witt CM17, Wayne PM9
11 Department of Health Sciences, University of York , York, United Kingdom .
22 Research Department, Oregon College of Oriental Medicine , Portland, OR.
33 The Institute for Integrative Health , Baltimore, MD.
44 Duke Clinical Research Institute , Durham, NC.
55 Department of Community and Family Medicine, Duke University , Durham, NC.
66 Stromatec, Inc. , Burlington, VT.
77 Department of Anesthesiology, University of Michigan , Ann Arbor, MI.
88 Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine , Stanford, CA.
99 Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School , Boston, MA.
1010 School of Chinese Medicine, The University of Hong Kong , Hong Kong .
1111 Center for Integrative Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Maryland , Baltimore, MD.
1212 Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital , Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA.
1313 Department of Radiology, Logan University , Chesterfield, MO.
1414 Department of Biomedical Engineering, Kyunghee University , Yongin, Korea.
1515 School of Nursing, University of Texas , Austin, TX.
1616 Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg , Gothenburg, Sweden .
1717 Institute for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, University Hospital Zurich, University of Zurich , Zurich, Switzerland .
Conference/Journal: J Altern Complement Med.
Date published: 2016 Feb
Other: Volume ID: 22 , Issue ID: 2 , Pages: 101-7 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1089/acm.2015.0184. Epub 2016 Jan 8. , Word Count: 197

Research into acupuncture has had ripple effects beyond the field of acupuncture. This paper identifies five exemplars to illustrate that there is tangible evidence of the way insights gleaned from acupuncture research have informed biomedical research, practice, or policy. The first exemplar documents how early research into acupuncture analgesia has expanded into neuroimaging research, broadening physiologic understanding and treatment of chronic pain. The second describes how the acupuncture needle has become a tool to enhance biomedical knowledge of connective tissue. The third exemplar, which illustrates use of a modified acupuncture needle as a sham device, focuses on emergent understanding of placebo effects and, in turn, on insights into therapeutic encounters in treatments unrelated to acupuncture. The fourth exemplar documents that two medical devices now in widespread use were inspired by acupuncture: transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulators for pain control and antinausea wrist bands. The final exemplar describes how pragmatic clinical trial designs applied in acupuncture research have informed current general interest in comparative effectiveness research. In conclusion, these exemplars of unanticipated outcomes of acupuncture research comprise an additional rationale for continued support of basic and clinical research evaluating acupuncture and other under-researched therapies.

PMID: 26745452 PMCID: PMC4761810 DOI: 10.1089/acm.2015.0184