Effect of enpishin (press tack acupuncture needles) on autonomic function, WBC count and oxidative stress


Acupuncture as a vital component of traditional medical systems of the Far East has been used to restore and maintain health for over three millennia. However, the neurobiological correlates of this therapy remain largely unknown. The purpose of this study was therefore to determine the effect of enpishin acupuncture (press tack needles (PTN)) on autonomic function, WBC count, and oxidative stress between subjects that received either verum or placebo PTN treatment. Twenty men (mean(SD) age: 36.7(5.1) years) who provided oral consent were randomized to receive either verum PTN (n = 9) or placebo PTN (n = 11). Bi-Digital O-Ring Test (BDORT) was used to select the acupoints for each participant. Autonomic function and oxidative stress level were analyzed before and after the treatment via heart rate variability (HRV) and free radical analysis system (FRAS4), respectively. Pre- and post-treatment WBC count was also evaluated. Verum PTN group had a statistically significant increase (p = 0.008) in Ln TP, an index of overall autonomic activity. Subjects in this group also had a significantly greater (p = 0.006) variation in Ln TP than the placebo PTN group in response to the treatment. Similarly, Ln HF of subjects receiving verum PTN showed a marked increase (p = 0.0026) after the treatment. Moreover, a significantly greater (p < 0.001) variation in mean Ln HF before and after the treatment was noted in the verum group than the placebo group, reflecting a greater parasympathetic activation in the former. In contrast, sympathetic activity was not significantly influenced by verum PTN based on the lack of observed changes in LF/HF ratio. In addition, both groups failed to demonstrate significant variations in pre- and post-treatment mean Ln LF/HF ratio. Further, no significant intergroup difference was found with regard to mean variation in Ln LF/HF ratio. Verum PTN did not induce significant changes in WBC count and markers of oxidative stress, namely reactive oxygen species (ROM) and biological antioxidant potential (BAP). However, a comparison of variations in pre- and post-treatment mean WBC count showed a significant difference (p = 0.020) between the two treatment modes: verum group showed a slight increase (225 ± 384.5), while placebo group showed a minimal decrease (–190 ± 272.6). Our findings suggest that PTN increases overall autonomic activity, particularly the parasympathetic function.

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Tsumaki, M. , Saita, Y. , Ikeda, H. , Kaneko, K. , Yukishita, T. , Lee, K. , Kim, S. , Yokota, S. , Suetake, N. and Kobayashi, H. (2011) Effect of enpishin (press tack acupuncture needles) on autonomic function, WBC count and oxidative stress. Health, 3, 437-443. doi: 10.4236/health.2011.37072.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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