Although acupuncture is effective for treating several conditions, its site specificity is questionable.
To investigate whether acupuncture influences the brainstem auditory evoked potentials (BAEP).
10 healthy volunteers were enrolled according to inclusion criteria. One of four acupuncture points—TE3, GB43 (both auditory system-specific, according to traditional Chinese medicine) and non-specific acupuncture points HT7 and ST44—was needled during each session. Each volunteer received four sessions of acupuncture, with a 1-week interval between the sessions.
Peak latencies and amplitudes of the BAEP were registered before and during each session of acupuncture. Pain intensity and the incidence of paraesthesia ( Qi sensation) during acupuncture were also registered. The peak latencies and amplitudes of the BAEP registered during acupuncture had not changed from the baseline levels. Needling of acupoint HT7 was most painful and induced the maximal incidence of Qi sensation.
Findings suggest that monitoring the BAEP is not a suitable technique for studying the immediate effects of acupuncture.