Author: Brian Wu PhD. MD Candidate, Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, USA. Chief Editor: Dr Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, August 2015.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely fine, sterile needles into specific points that lie along meridians of energy in the body (there are some 350 of these points in this tradition). It is believed that stimulation of these nodes unblocks energy, or qi, within the body.
Acupuncture is one of the more widely accepted alternative therapies in the West; it has its origins in China and is believed to have begun between 2,000 and 3,000 years ago.
The specific mechanisms by which acupuncture works are not fully understood, but there have been several theories advanced.
It is believed that acupuncture might work by the stimulation of Raphe nuclei, which increases serotonin production. This, turn, sets off a series of reactions which culminates in the increase of glucocorticoids that modulate inflammation and other aspects of the body’s immune response.
Since many skin conditions are at least in part inflammatory, acupuncture may have a positive effect through reduction of inflammation.
Acupuncture has been used to treat an extensive list of skin conditions, including:
The benefits of acupuncture as a dermatology treatment include:
The drawbacks of acupuncture as a treatment include:
Acupuncture has been reported to rarely cause cutaneous disease, such as:
Herbal acupuncture may give rise to hypersensitivity reactions to plant materials.
Embedding acupuncture may lead to foreign body granuloma.
See the DermNet NZ bookstore.
© 2018 DermNet New Zealand Trust.
DermNet NZ does not provide an online consultation service. If you have any concerns with your skin or its treatment, see a dermatologist for advice.