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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 267959, 6 pages
Review Article

Acupuncture Effect and Central Autonomic Regulation

Acupuncture and Moxibustion Department, Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine affiliated to Capital Medical University, 23 Meishuguanhou Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100010, China

Received 7 February 2013; Revised 3 April 2013; Accepted 3 April 2013

Academic Editor: Lijun Bai

Copyright © 2013 Qian-Qian Li et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Acupuncture is a therapeutic technique and part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Acupuncture has clinical efficacy on various autonomic nerve-related disorders, such as cardiovascular diseases, epilepsy, anxiety and nervousness, circadian rhythm disorders, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and subfertility. An increasing number of studies have demonstrated that acupuncture can control autonomic nerve system (ANS) functions including blood pressure, pupil size, skin conductance, skin temperature, muscle sympathetic nerve activities, heart rate and/or pulse rate, and heart rate variability. Emerging evidence indicates that acupuncture treatment not only activates distinct brain regions in different kinds of diseases caused by imbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic activities, but also modulates adaptive neurotransmitter in related brain regions to alleviate autonomic response. This review focused on the central mechanism of acupuncture in modulating various autonomic responses, which might provide neurobiological foundations for acupuncture effects.