Mechanical signaling through connective tissue: a mechanism for the therapeutic effect of acupuncture

  • Langevin H
  • Churchill D
  • Cipolla M
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The mechanism of action of acupunc-ture remains largely unknown. The reaction to acupunc-ture needling known as 'de qi', widely viewed as essen-tial to the therapeutic effect of acupuncture, may be a key to understanding its mechanism of action. De qi includes a characteristic needling sensation, perceived by the patient, and 'needle grasp' perceived by the acupuncturist. During needle grasp, the acupuncturist feels pulling and increased resistance to further move-ment of the inserted needle. We hypothesize that 1) needle grasp is due to mechanical coupling between the needle and connective tissue with winding of tissue around the needle during needle rotation and 2) needle manipulation transmits a mechanical signal to connec-tive tissue cells via mechanotransduction. Such a mech-anism may explain local and remote, as well as long-term effects of acupuncture.—Langevin, H. M., Churchill, D. L., Cipolla, M. J. Mechanical signaling through connective tissue: a mechanism for the thera-peutic effect of acupuncture. FASEB J. 15, 2275–2282 (2001)

Author-supplied keywords

  • collagen ⅐ mechanotransduction ⅐ meridian

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  • Helene M Langevin

  • David L Churchill

  • Marilyn J Cipolla

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