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Jingchun Guo, Jieshi Cheng, Ying Xia
In this chapter, we shall review the clinic application of acupuncture treatment on stroke, and the mechanistic research on animal models of ischemic brain infarction. Acupuncture has been employed to treat patients with stroke in China as well as other oriental countries. Clinical data suggest that patients show better outcome and require less nursing and rehabilitation therapy after acupuncture treatment, although more studies with better control are needed to clarify the efficacy and optimal conditions of acupuncture for the treatment of ischemic brain injury. In contrast to clinical research, considerable experimental results have been obtained from bench work regarding the effect of acupuncture/electro-acupuncture on ischemic injury and the underlying mechanism. The data from our work and those from other researches suggest that acupuncture/electro-acupuncture greatly attenuate the ischemic infarction and neurological defects. Furthermore, we have recently defined the optimal conditions for maximal protection against ischemic injury in the experimental model of stroke. Appropriate stimulation of acupoints may increase the blood flow, upregulate the inherent neuroprotector activity, stabilize the ionic homeostasis, and balance the intracellular survival and death signals in the ischemic brain region. As there is no promising therapy for ischemia injury till date, acupuncture may be a useful option for the treatment of stroke. More research on acupuncture therapy for stroke may significantly improve the clinical outcome after ischemic injury and reduce the devastating effects on the individuals and their families.