So how does someone suffering from an immune disorder find relief? Acupuncture can regulate immune function and treat the underlying cause of the disease by reducing symptoms, speeding up the healing of infection and normalizing the body’s immune response. It works by stimulating specific portions of the autonomic nervous system through selected acupoints, which in turn causes responses in the immune system. Acupuncture can cause a rise in levels of interferon, on of the immune system’s messenger hormones. Regular acupuncture therapy can be effective in treating asthma, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, colds and infections.
As a traditional therapy applied for thousands of years, acupuncture has recently been attracting more and more investigators throughout the world. In the theory of traditional Chinese medicine, it is proposed that acupuncture can strengthen the human body to resist diseases by puncturing needles at certain points. The characteristic that acupuncture enhances resistance is closely related with the immune system, which functions in defense, homeostasis, and surveillance. More and more research has revealed that acupuncture can regulate immunity, for example, to enhance anticancer and antistress immune function and exert anti-inflammation effects. This may be the basis of acupuncture in preventing and treating later diseases. This special issue was developed to stimulate the continuing efforts in promoting the research on acupuncture and immunity.
“Mediators, Receptors, and Signaling Pathways in the Anti-Inflammatory and Antihyperalgesic Effects of Acupuncture” by J. L. McDonald et al. reviewed both demonstrated and proposed anti-inflammatory effects of acupuncture and analyzed the complex crosstalk between receptors during inflammation to elucidate the mediators and signaling pathways activated by acupuncture. Researches with new advances which demonstrated that acupuncture activated a novel cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway and chemokine-mediated proliferation of opioid-containing macrophages in inflamed tissues were also included.
As inflammation is the coherent pathophysiologic progress in many kinds of diseases, immune system and response of the human body are influenced in diseases such as cancer; the anti-inflammation effect of acupuncture may be a very important underlying mechanism of acupuncture in treating diseases. Moreover, TCM focuses on the theory that prevention before the onset of the diseases or intervening in an early stage of diseases is much better than treating after the onset. Preconditioning by acupuncture which means stimulation with acupuncture before the onset of diseases has been widely applied from ancient time to present clinical practice, proposing a potential field in preventing diseases.