In April 2012, The Science Daily revealed that researchers at the American Society of Molecular Biology annual meeting found that acupuncture can prevent muscle atrophy. This is great news for acupuncture and sports medicine because there is now evidence for the scientific community that verifies that acupuncture can influence and benefit muscles. In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been used for centuries for many types of muscle problems including the wasting of muscles after a stroke. One herbal medicine known as huang qi in Chinese (astragalus) has had a history of being used to help muscles recover after a stroke as well as by kung fu martial artists to strengthen their muscles. The acupuncture point Stomach 36 has been used for many years in acupuncture and sports medicine for muscle strength enhancement.
In fact, many marathon runners have just this one acupuncture point needled daily for 2 weeks prior to the event to improve their fitness and endurance levels.
The research presenter was hopeful that acupuncture would become the primary non-pharmacological treatment to prevent muscle skeletal atrophy. The team showed that decreases in muscle mass in the mRNA expression level of the E3 ubiquitin ligase atrogin-1 can be significantly reversed by acupuncture.
The scientific community is still sceptical about acupuncture even though the World Health Organisation has endorsed hundreds of medical conditions that have benefit from acupuncture.
The Australian Olympic medical team includes traditionally trained acupuncturists but New Zealand is still lagging behind.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs and their use in sports medicine is commonly seen at The Acupuncture Clinic – Hastings by Heiko Lade. Heiko sees a variety of sports people and athletes as well as body builders. Chinese herbal medicine formulations have been used for centuries to enhance strength and fitness for martial artists.