Itch, Acupuncture and the Brain

Oh the Itch!! Oh to Scratch!

From Napadow, the brain circuitry of itching and where verum acupuncture seems to be working  at the brain level.

Cereb Cortex. 2012 Dec 4
The Brain Circuitry Mediating Antipruritic Effects of Acupuncture.
Napadow V, Li A, Loggia ML, Kim J, Schalock PC, Lerner E, Tran TN, Ring J, Rosen BR, Kaptchuk TJ, Pfab F.
Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA, USA.

Itch is an aversive sensory experience and while systemic therapies, such as acupuncture, have shown promise in alleviating itch in patients suffering from chronic itch, their antipruritic mechanisms are unknown. As several lines of evidence implicate brain-focused mechanisms, we applied functional magnetic resonance imaging and our validated temperature-modulation itch model to evaluate the underlying brain circuitry supporting allergen-induced itch reduction in atopic dermatitis patients by acupuncture, antihistamine, and respecNtive placebo treatments. … Acupuncture reduced itch and itch-evoked activation in the insula, putamen, and premotor and prefrontal cortical areas. Neither itch sensation nor itch-evoked brain response was altered following antihistamine or placebo acupuncture. Greater itch reduction following acupuncture was associated with greater reduction in putamen response, a region implicated in motivation and habitual behavior underlying the urge to scratch, specifically implicating this region in acupuncture’s antipruritic effects. Understanding brain circuitry underlying itch reduction following acupuncture and related neuromodulatory therapies will significantly impact the development and applicability of novel therapies to reduce an itch.