Paper received 10 May 1999; accepted after revision 23 August 1999.
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that has developed over thousands of years. We studied the effects of laser puncture, needle acupuncture, and light stimulation on cerebral blood flow in 15 healthy volunteers (mean age 25.0Â±1.9 years, 5 female, 10 male) with non-invasive transcranial Doppler sonography. In addition 40-Hz stimulus-induced brain oscillations, heart rate, blood pressure, peripheral and cerebral oxygen saturation, and the bispectral index of the EEG were recorded. Stimulation with light significantly increased blood flow velocity in the posterior cerebral artery (p < 0.01, ANOVA). Similar but less pronounced effects were seen after needle acupuncture (p < 0.05, ANOVA) and laserpuncture (n.s.) of vision-related acupuncture points. Furthermore both, laserpuncture and needle acupuncture, led to a significant increase in the amplitudes of 40-Hz cerebral oscillations. Stimulation of vision-related acupuncture points with laser light or needle acupuncture elicits specific effects in specific areas of the brain. The results indicate that the brain plays a key intermediate role in acupuncture. However, brain activity of itself does not explain anything about the healing power of acupuncture.