Early last month, I communicated in a blog post a few questions I had about a study in Electro Acupuncture published in PLOS One. It took the authors a while to get to them, but the senior and corresponding author of that study, Professor Kai-Liang Wu, of the Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center, graciously wrote a detailed reply to my question a week ago. I am going to put his response in this space in blocks. For better comprehension, I shall put my questions in italicized letters followed by his response; the boldface types are for emphasis, mine. My comments are interspersed with the blocks.
In the wake of my recent critique of acupuncture being touted as a remedy for allergic rhinitis, I was pointed (via a Twitter comment) towards a 2013 review in Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, which purported to propose a mechanism for the much-claimed anti-inflammatory effects of acupuncture. There are several putative mechanisms, discussing all of which will make this post gargantuan. Therefore, I shall focus on the explanation involving the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.
I hope by now you, my gentle reader(s), are familiar with the story of diabetes, insulin resistance and their link with chronic inflammation. Let me emphasize once more. Inflammation per se is not a bad thing; it is an essential process in the immune defence of the body. Whenever there is an invasion of a tissue, internal or external, by a foreign substance – such as a pathogen, the inflammatory process, initiated by signals from the primary defence cells in the tissue (such as Macrophages), calls in reinforcements from bone marrow derived immune cells, the secondary defence system of the body – in form of leukocytes (a.k.a. White Blood Cells/WBCs; e.g. neutrophils, T- and B-lymphocytes, monocytes, and sometimes basophils and eosinophils) and/or mast cells, from blood into the tissue. These defence cells communicate with each other and perform their action by releasing chemical substances known as cytokines and chemokines, that act as messengers.