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Neuro-Acupuncture - Acupuncture Reference Book
Title Neuro-Acupuncture
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Neuro-Acupuncture is one of the first comprehensive Neuroscience based Acupuncture books written by a group of scientists in the fields of Neuro-Radiologic Physics, Neuro-Ophthalmology, as well as Neuro-Anatomists and Physiologists. The principal author of the book, Zang-Hee Cho, Ph.D., the professor of Radiological Sciences and Psychiatry at University of California at Irvine, is one of the leading neuro-imaging scientists and inventor of the PET (Positron Emission Tomography). He is a world-renowned MRI physicist, who has pioneered numerous MRI imaging techniques including the first Acupuncture -fMRI technique in 1997.

The book Neuro-Acupuncture is written for both the acupuncturists who are interested in learning neural basis of acupuncture mechanisms as well as for the physicians who are interested in learning acupuncture in terms of modern neuroscience point of view. The book is written in such a way that it is readily readable for the newcomers as well as for those who have some previous exposure to modern neuroscience. To make the book more readily understandable for the newcomers, many illustrations are given, some in repetition, to enhance the consolidation of memory of many new exotic neuroscience nomenclatures.

Neuro-Acupuncture is the first textbook illustrating the interpretation of Acupuncture from a Neurological perspective. This extraordinary textbook provides the essentials to modern Neuroscience and its relationship to the field of Acupuncture. The extensive research compiled for Neuro-Acupuncture clearly demonstrates that Acupuncture stimulation leads to activation of upper parts of the brain. Undoubtedly, understanding the scientific bases of Acupuncture can improve its clinical effectiveness. Initial studies with such techniques as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Positron Emission Tomography (PET), and Magneto-Encephalography (MEG) have discovered effects of Acupuncture on neural correlates. These studies have begun to provide some clues to the mechanisms of Oriental Medicine, such as the meridians and the principles of pain control.

Acupuncture is no longer a theory !


Review of Neuro-Acupuncture: Scientific Evidence of Acupuncture Revealed
By Matthew D. Bauer, LAc

San Dimas, California

In this book, principal author Z.H. Cho, Professor of the Department of Radiological Sciences & Psychiatry at the University of California at Irvine, provides an overview of the research he has been conducting into the pivotal role the brain apparently plays in mediating acupuncture's far-reaching effects.

Professor Cho is one of the world's foremost authorities on brain imaging technologies. Inventor of the PET (positron emission tomography) scan and important contributor to the invention of the fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), Professor Cho ranks as one of the world's highest level scientists engaged in acupuncture research. He has been using his considerable expertise with this cutting edge brain imaging technology to examine how signals from acupuncture stimulation affect brain functioning.

Much of Neuro Acupuncture is dedicated to explaining the highly complex subject of neurophysiology and anatomy in as easy to follow a manner as possible. As such, it easily ranks as one the of the best resources available for non-specialists (neurophysiologists/anatomists), successfully balancing the need to provide enough information on this complex subject without going into so much detail as to bewilder one with only moderate knowledge in neurology. In fact, the drawings, diagrams, etc. are the most well-designed I have ever seen in any technical book. You simply could not find better visual aids to help illustrate neuroanatomy and physiology. Every acupuncture school should have a copy of this book, as should anyone interested in how acupuncture causes a cascade of effects throughout the nervous system.

Neuro Acupuncture is organized into five chapters, the first of which briefly explains how PET and fMRI scans allow researchers to image minute changes in the brain's energy metabolism, PET measuring glucose and fMRI measuring oxygen consumption. This allows the study of how stimulating specific acupuncture points activates or deactivates very specific regions of the brain. The chapter concludes with the statement that, while still too early to know for sure, "recent experimental data suggests strongly that there may be a correlation between acupuncture and cortical activation that is related to certain types of disease or dysfunction."

Chapters two, three and four are titled "Overview of Brain Function and Neuroanatomy," "Details of the Brain: Higher Brain, Intermediate Brain, Lower Brain and their Interconnections" and "The Peripheral Nervous System and Sensory Pathways," respectively. As mentioned above, these chapters make for an excellent review of these subjects. They also help the reader to make sense of the principal theory of Professor Cho's research; namely, that there is a growing body of scientific evidence suggesting that acupuncture may help a wide range of different diseases by stimulating brain regulating mechanisms.

Chapter five, titled "Hypotheses of Acupuncture Mechanisms," explains how research on acupuncture's neuromechanisms has progressed in the last 30-40 years starting with the "gate theory" of Melzack and Wall through studies conducted by Han, Pomeranz, Takesige and others. Professor Cho's theories expand on these earlier studies, especially those of Pomeranz, who suggested that the higher brain might mediate acupuncture pain control.

Cho theorizes that acupuncture may stimulate regions of the higher brain for disease conditions other than pain. Chapter five features a section titled "Hypothesis of the Acupuncture-Disease-Treatment Mechanism, Parts I, II and III." This chapter culminates with Cho's "Integrated Hypothetical Model" which states that the three major regions of the brain (higher, intermediate and lower) may work together in an integrated fashion to stimulate survival mechanisms controlled by the hypothalamus, stimulating the "execution of endocrine, autonomic and other functions for the purpose of homeostasis."

Neuro Acupuncture concludes with appendices and an index that add to the value of this book as a functional, easy use reference guide. My only criticism of this book is how quickly chapter five concludes. I wanted more information on what really amounts to the first comprehensive scientific theory about how acupuncture may be an effective form of therapy for a wide range of different diseases and dysfunctions "beyond pain." This book is billed as "Volume I: Neuroscience Basics," so we can only hope more information about this milestone research will be forthcoming soon.

On a personal note, I would like to add that I have gotten to know professor Cho over the last two years and feel the acupuncture community is extremely fortunate to have a scientist of his caliber involved in acupuncture research. Since he first began publishing reports of his studies (most in Western medical/science journals), he has been a highly sought after speaker around the world. His research has been very well received and has sparked an interest in acupuncture by mainstream Western researchers that will have a far-reaching impact on the development of acupuncture research. He brings a unique combination of world-class knowledge of brain imaging technology, understanding of neurophysiology, and an appreciation of working with fully trained acupuncturists to aid him in his research.

By Belinda J. Anderson, Ph.D. and Moshe Heller, L. Ac.

This book is a much needed addition to the relatively small number of books that have been written on the subject of the neurological explanation of acupuncture. What sets this book apart from the others is the considerable attention that has been given to a thorough explanation of the neuroanatomy and neurological mechanism that are relevant to understanding acupuncture. This is an excellent book for students and practicing acupuncturists who require background neurological knowledge in order to appreciate the new findings about the neurological basis of acupuncture.

The book is beautifully illustrated and the use of detailed and plentiful color figures greatly facilitates a better understanding of the material. The text is well written and succinct, which should help to retain the interest of the reader without having to wade through unnecessary detail. As a book aimed at the understanding of acupuncture the choice of neurological theory is judicious and appropriate. The authors have done a good job of keeping the material simple without loosing accuracy or intellectual content.

Being the first volume of a series, the focus of this volume is the basics of neuroscience. Much of the book is devoted to explaining the basic anatomy and functioning of the nervous system. As such this book could be used as a text for neuroanatomy courses within acupuncture and oriental medicine academic programs. What is particularly attractive about this book is the simplicity in which the material is presented and explained whilst still retaining enough detail for an introductory neuroanatomy course.

The final chapter contains material that is directly relevant to understanding acupuncture. An explanation of pain mechanisms is given followed by a description of the current theories for how acupuncture is thought to attenuate pain via various neurological pathways. A description of recent research demonstrating the role of higher brain functions in mediating the effects of acupuncture is given. This is followed by discussion of the role that the CNS may play in mediating the wide range of physiological effects of acupuncture. This takes the understanding of the mechanism of acupuncture beyond pain modulation and opens up a much broader neurological explanation of how acupuncture affects the physiology and biochemistry of the body.


Dr Belinda Anderson is Head of the Biomedical Department at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and a research scientist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She has been teaching Biophysics at the College since 1997 in which she explores various scientific theories for understanding the mechanism of acupuncture and other complimentary and alternative medical modalities. Web site:

Moshe Heller graduated from Pacific College in San Diego in 1994. He then moved to Israel where he was teaching and maintaining a busy practice as well as working in a hospital setting. He has relocated to New York in 1999 and is the Academic Dean at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, NY campus.

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