Diabetics, the days of controlling the disease with your phone are not far away when you'll be able to tell your pancreas to bring blood sugar levels back to normal just by clicking on an app, according to a recent study.
"Our bodies are a lot like rooms in a house," said Rutgers New Jersey Medical School's Luis Ulloa. "In order to see when you enter a darkened room, you need electricity to turn on the lights. Our body is like that room and has an electrical network that can be used to manipulate and help control how it works."
The research indicated that data available on a wide range of nerve stimulating procedures - from ancient traditional acupuncture and the more modern acupuncture">electroacupuncture, to neuromodulation, a procedure that involves implanting electrical devices to relieve chronic pain, pelvic disorders and Parkinson's disease, can be advantageous for treating inflammatory disorders like arthritis and deadly infections like sepsis.
Ulloa noted that these studies have found that nerve stimulation provides therapeutic benefits in treating colitis, diabetes, obesity, pancreatitis, paralysis, and life-threatening infections. Bioelectronic medicine, a new and more advanced version of acupuncture">electroacupuncture, is aiming to treat chronic diseases with electrical signals in the body by using miniature implantable devises to make sure organs function properly.
"All you have to do is look at the pacemaker and how it has enabled people with arrhythmias to live long lives," said Ulloa. "We believe this type of medicine could be used throughout the body."
What scientists now need to do, Ulloa said, is compare the data from all these nerve-stimulating procedures to the recent studies done in experimental and animal models. This means recognizing the clinical advantages of varying procedures including acupuncture, controversial and questioned by some clinicians for its efficacy.
Ulloa argued that the clinical outcome of acupuncture depends on the experience of the practitioner and the precision of the needles. More studies need to be done, he says, to determine how and why the procedure, according to clinical studies, can improve postoperative recovery, osteoarthritis, migraine, joint pain, stroke, post-traumatic stress disorder and drug addiction.
"Acupuncture is used by over 15 million Americans and it is difficult not to recognize the clinical implications of these methods," Ulloa noted.
Further examination of nerve-stimulating techniques will lead to new and improved treatments for physical and mental health ailments, Ulloa said.
The belief has always been just take a pill when you're sick," he added. "In the future, I believe we will be connected to the cell phone in order to to control our organ functions."
The study is published in Trends in Molecular Medicine.