Acupuncture isn’t always used to help alleviate the frustrating symptoms of painful conditions or ailments; it can make you look and feel good too.
A medical modality based on the ancient wisdom of Chinese medicine, acupuncture has fast become an interesting intervention within the field of modern research.
From regulating the Qi (energy) to moving blood along the meridians, we now investigate the mechanisms of acupuncture from a scientific perspective. What are the key elements that make acupuncture effective? Today we’ll explore a few via some key scientific research.
How Does Cosmetic Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture affects the energy (ATP) release from fibroblasts, which are specialised skin cells that produce collagen and elastin. The fibroblast cells generate collagen and elastin, and the skin’s healing process triggered by acupuncture is driven by these cells.
This works to initiate skin’s repair, replenishing collagen to rebuild the structural integrity of the complexion’s connective tissue. The tissue consists of up to 80% of the dermis of the skin, making this regeneration even more crucial for the overall integrity of the skin as an organ.
It’s probably no surprise to learn that, as we age, these cells get lazy and slow down production of this coveted protein. Fibroblast stimulation is also responsible for epidermal growth factors in the the regeneration and proliferation of skin cells.
Fibroblast cells play a critical role in normal skin regeneration. Different extracellular matrix (ECM) constituents – including collagens, fibrin, fibronectin, proteoglycans, glycosaminoglycans, and matricellular proteins – are fundamental for fibroblast health, migration, and metabolism.
What Does Research Suggest About Acupuncture’s Effectiveness?
There’s clinical research to suggest that acupuncture offers anti-inflammatory benefits for the skin, including antihistamine and downregulation pro-inflammatory benefits.
Acupuncture triggers neuropeptides from nerve endings and subsequently promotes vasodilation and anti-inflammatory benefits through calcitonin gene-related peptides. The neurochemical interactions with the analgesic effects of beta-endorphin and the balance between cell-specific pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory makes acupuncture a very beneficial treatment to treat skin inflammatory conditions – from rosacea to eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis.
There’s some promising research to suggest that cosmetic acupuncture results in increasing hydration levels when it comes to the elasticity of the skin; it works by enhancing skin volume and appearance.
Facial elasticity may be developed by restoring resting mimetic muscle tonicity by inserting needles into the face and neck, affecting deeper layers of skin, and muscle subcutaneous levels of the face.
An investigative study with an MRI measured changes of the contour of facial muscles in volunteers of different ages with a degree of photo ageing. The research found that facial mimetic muscles which gradually straighten and shorten as we get older gained a better muscle tone after acupuncture treatment.
How Can Acupuncture Improve Your Complexion?
Acupuncture facial treatment is one of the key factors that affect the curative results influencing skin microcirculation, changing muscle blood flow locally at different levels. This suggests that the phenomenon may be caused by local vasodilator factors within the microenvironment of skin.
Different physiological functions may take place simultaneously as a result of the localised blood circulation – such as cellular oxygenation, tissue perfusion in the capillary network, and neural signal activation. This, of course, contributes to more effective cell communication.
Acupuncture increases the diameter and blood flow velocity of the peripheral arterioles, as well as affecting the skin topically. According to some studies, acupuncture stimulation enhances microcirculation and may be a useful complementary treatment for diseases caused by poor peripheral blood flow, such as diabetic neuropathy. In addition, research suggests that the effects of acupuncture on microcirculation occurs not only at the cutaneous level, but also in deeper areas such as within the brain circulation.
Are There Any Therapeutic Effects of Acupuncture?
The answer is ‘yes!’ Recent research reveals that the therapeutic effects of acupuncture can enhance facial skin appearance and antiaging, and specifically its effects on inhibiting ultraviolet B irradiation-induced skin photo-aging. This plays a crucial role on wrinkle formation and premature skin ageing.
Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are key enzymes produced by the sun in the skin, due to UV exposure. This, of course, contributes to wrinkle formation. causing dermal destruction of the basement membrane followed by degradation of extracellular matrix constituents, including collagen and elastin fibres. Cosmetic acupuncture, therefore, is effective in suppressing signs of photo-aging, including epidermal thickness and collagen fibre loss.
In addition, cosmetic acupuncture owes its photoprotective effects against UVB exposed skin damage by inhibiting natural skin immune-stimulant activation, with subsequent reduction in MMP-9 expression.
A Technique Used for Centuries
Cosmetic acupuncture theories and concepts have been used for centuries – back to the Song Dynasty (960AD-1279AD) in China – and practitioners believe that acupuncture can have anti-ageing and beautifying benefits.
Several multifaceted research papers are now doing their best to explain how exactly cosmetic acupuncture monitors and enhances natural, beautiful skin. There is, of course, a lot of research still to be considered; however, according to recent literature and clinical experience, cosmetic acupuncture can be a very effective weapon against premature skin ageing.
With all that in mind, are you keen to give cosmetic acupuncture a go? If so get in touch with Dr John Tsagaris, a leading Cosmetic Acupuncture expert in London.