Acupuncture and Rheumatoid Arthritis

BOSTON - April 3, 2019 - PRLog -- Rheumatoid arthritis is a kind of arthritis caused by an imbalance of the immune system which produces antibodies that attack tissue. In rheumatoid arthritis, the antibodies lead to chronic inflammation in the synovial tissue (the membrane lining joint cavities), causing joint swelling, pain and redness. If this inflammation happens many times, the joints will be deformed; the function of the joints will be limited. Reducing inflammation is the key to treating rheumatoid arthritis. What can cause an imbalance of the immune system?

1. Hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system related to stress sometimes related to the overuse of electronics
2. Estrogen dominance: an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone
3. Imbalance of chemicals: too many stimulating chemicals in the body such as glutamate, aspartate and other excitatory neurotransmitters which can cause inflammation in the brain and joints.
4. High level of blood sugar and salt
5. Too much spicy food

Many women of menopause age or around puberty or after childbirth tend to develop RA, MS, Sjogren's, rosacea, Raynaud's, Hashimoto's disease and other autoimmune diseases because of estrogen dominance. A recent study published in Evid Based Complement Alternat Med in 2011 explains how electro-acupuncture can reduce inflammation by increasing one of the anti-inflammatory chemicals called vasoactive intestinal peptide, in rats bred with rheumatoid arthritis induced by chemicals. In this study, Dr. He TF et. al uses chemicals to induce rheumatoid arthritis with symptoms of swelling and redness of the rat paws. This group of researchers then applied electro-acupuncture at ST36, GB39 and UB23 acupuncture point to the rats. They found that the rats with real electro-acupuncture showed significant reduction of the paw swelling. Furthermore, inflammation in the synovial tissue was reduced. However, electrical acupuncture at non-acupoints did not produce a similar result. Interestingly, the electro-acupuncture increased vasoactive intestinal peptide, a potent anti-inflammatory neuropeptide in the synovial tissue, but not in the non-acupuncture points group. Dr. He et. al also noticed that the higher the level of a vasoactive intestinal peptide, the less inflammation in the synovial tissue.

Dr. He et. al. explains that electrical acupuncture may inhibit the lymphocyte infiltration in the synovial tissues from blood vessels because the vassal active intestinal peptide can modulate the production of small molecules by synovial cells,  which lead to inflammation.

Dr. Chen et. al proposed another mechanism in the Scandinavian Journal of Immunology, in 2008, indicating that the vaso-active intestinal peptide may modulate cellular immune reaction through T helper cells and T regulatory cells. This research shows that a balance of the immune system is the key to preventing chronic inflammation in the joints.

Then why do some people achieve better results from acupuncture treatment than other people? The therapeutic effect from acupuncture is related to four factors: good nutrition, good sleep, regular exercise and how often you get acupuncture treatments. In animal studies, it is easier to manage those factors, the researchers will give a sufficient dosage of acupuncture treatments (at least three times a week).

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