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Acupuncture Treats Inflammation

Inflammation can become chronic and lead to health problems. Fortunately, acupuncture has been shown to reduce the effects of inflammatory-induced conditions.

Inflammation is a key player in many conditions, including:

  • Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and psoriasis.

  • Cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

  • Gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease, and ulcerative colitis.

  • Lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pneumonia.

  • Mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.

  • Metabolic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome.

  • Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and multiple sclerosis.

  • Some types of cancer such as colon cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer.

In 2021, the Journal of Inflammation Research published an article that reviewed the latest research on the anti-inflammatory mechanisms of acupuncture. The authors examined 363 studies published between January 2016 and January 2021, and summarized the key findings.

The researchers found that acupuncture can regulate the immune system, reduce inflammation, and inhibit oxidative stress. They also found that the anti-inflammatory effects of acupuncture are not limited to a single biological system, but have been shown to be effective in the immune, digestive, respiratory, nervous, locomotory, circulatory, endocrine, and genitourinary systems.

Here are some of the mechanisms by which acupuncture works on inflammation, as discussed in the article:

  • Acupuncture stimulates multiple neuro-immune pathways: Acupuncture activates multiple neuro-immune pathways which release crucial neurotransmitters and hormones that relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

  • Acupuncture prevents the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines: Too many pro-inflammatory cytokines can lead to excessive inflammation. Acupuncture triggers the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, which in turn inhibits the pro-inflammatory cytokines. This helps to reduce inflammation and promote healing.

  • Acupuncture modulates the balance of helper T cell populations: Helper T cells are a type of white blood cell that plays a role in the immune response. Acupuncture can help to increase the number of helper T cells that produce anti-inflammatory cytokines boosting the immune system.

  • Acupuncture promotes antioxidizing defense: Acupuncture has been shown to stimulate antioxidant enzymes which protects the cells from free radicals which are unstable molecules that can damage cells and lead to diseases. These antioxidant enzymes can help to restore the balance of free radicals and antioxidants, which can help to protect against oxidative stress-mediated diseases.

Please feel free to call us at 301.880.3232 and it will be our pleasure to schedule a comprehensive evaluation for you.



Inflammation. (n.d.). National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Li, N., Guo, Y., Gong, Y., Zhang, Y., Fan, W., Yao, K., Chen, Z., Dou, B., Lin, X., Chen, B., Chen, Z., Xu, Z., & Lyu, Z. (2021). The Anti-Inflammatory Actions and Mechanisms of Acupuncture from Acupoint to Target Organs via Neuro-Immune Regulation. Journal of inflammation research, 14, 7191–7224.



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