The grant extends a previous five-year grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Dr. John Longhurst -- UC Irvine cardiologist and director of the center -- received the grant and will continue leading research into how acupuncture triggers physiological changes in the brain that can reverse illnesses that impact millions of Americans.
The study is the first of its kind to receive federal support.
"Contemporary Western medicine has always been skeptical about acupuncture," said Longhurst, who is also the Lawrence K. Dodge Professor in Integrative Biology. "But the fact remains that hundreds of millions of people worldwide benefit from this treatment, so it is our goal to bridge this gap and bring a clear medical and scientific basis for acupuncture."
Longhurst points out that, despite its long history, there has been little medical research done on acupuncture's effects on certain diseases.
A practicing cardiologist, Longhurst studies at the molecular level how acupuncture excites brain cells to release neurotransmitters that either inhibit or heighten cardiovascular activity. Acupuncture is a 3,000-year-old form of Chinese medicine that involves inserting needles at specific points on the body to help cure disease or relieve pain. When an acupuncture needle is inserted at specific sites on the wrist, inside of the forearm or leg, this triggers the release of opioid chemicals in the brain that reduce excitatory responses in the cardiovascular system, according to Longhurst. This decreases the heart's activity and its need for oxygen, which in turn lowers blood pressure and promotes healing for a number of cardiac ailm
Contact: Tom Vasich
University of California - Irvine