Protective Effects of ST 36 Zusanli Against Sepsis
Sepsis is the overwhelming immune response to infection leading to organ damage due to inflammation. Septic shock is a possibly fatal consequence of this. Quite simply, the organs stop working, leading to death.
So, how do we prevent this? We can’t just shut down the immune system – that would let the bacteria causing the illness just kill the patient faster. No, what we would like is to mediate the response so that the body can still fight back the bad guys without causing too much collateral damage.
Studies involving ST 36 Zusanli
ST 36 Zusanli is a very well known point. Located a bit below the knee, it is generally known as a strengthening point. What is less well known are it’s immune modulating effects.
Here we present two studies that show how ST 36 Zusanli can help prevent the complications of sepsis.
Acupuncture stimulation of ST-36 (Zusanli) significantly mitigates acute lung injury in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated rats.
In this study from 2006, scientists divided the test rats into several groups. First they divided the rats into a group where lipopolysaccharides were injected to induce sepsis and one where normal saline solution was used as control. Then each group was divided into two subgroups, one where no other intervention was done and another where acupuncture was done. In the acupuncture groups, they were further divided, one where ST 36 was stimulated and another where a sham acupoint was stimulated. All in all there were six groups.
Six hours after LPS injection, the rats were then sacrificed to check for results. Specific parameters included lung damage, nitric oxide (NO) biosynthesis, and inducible NO synthase (iNOs) expression.
Here are the results:
Significant lung injury, pulmonary iNOS expression and systemic and pulmonary NO biosynthesis were noted in the LPS groups. Rats in the LPS plus Sham group had lung injury, pulmonary iNOS expression, systemic and pulmonary NO biosynthesis similar to those observed in the LPS group. However, the degree of lung injury, pulmonary iNOS expression and pulmonary NO biosynthesis, but not systemic NO biosynthesis, were significantly attenuated in the LPS plus ST-36 group as compared with those in both the LPS group and the LPS plus Sham group.
What does this mean? Quite simply, using the real point ST 36 had a mediating effect and lessened the damage. Using fake acupuncture points was tantamount to doing nothing.
Acupuncture stimulation of ST36 (Zusanli) attenuates acute renal but not hepatic injury in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated rats.
For an encore, the authors followed it up the next year with a similar experiment. This time, they tried comparing using acupuncture before LPS injection occurred and after. Their results showed that kidney injuries are reduced, but not liver injuries. Also, once LPS is given, the damage remains the same. Hence, the physician must use ST 36 Zusanli before sepsis sets in.
Incidentally, these studies also show that needling non-acupoints doesn’t have an effect as opposed to needling ST 36 Zusanli. I would like to repeat these studies but comparing ST 36 Zusanli to other acupoints, like perhaps LI 11 Quchi?
Huang CL1, Huang CJ, Tsai PS, Yan LP, Xu HZ (2006) Acupuncture stimulation of ST-36 (Zusanli) significantly mitigates acute lung injury in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated rats. Acta Anaesthesiol Scand. 2006 Jul;50(6):722-30. PMID 16987368
Huang CL1, Tsai PS, Wang TY, Yan LP, Xu HZ, Huang CJ (2007) Acupuncture stimulation of ST36 (Zusanli) attenuates acute renal but not hepatic injury in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated rats. Anesth Analg. 2007 Mar;104(3):646-54. PMID 17312224