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Stressed rats ‘treated’ with acupuncture in cruel and pointless study

Researchers in America stressed out rats by forcing them into cages filled with crushed ice, restraining them inside socks and ‘treating’ them with acupuncture in order to develop a greater understanding of how this ancient Chinese therapy works in humans. 

34 male rats were implanted with catheters in their necks and were kept isolated from each other. They were then placed head first into socks and restrained for 20 minutes while stainless steel acupuncture needles were inserted into their back legs. Half an hour later, they were put into cages 1cm deep with crushed ice for one hour before going back to their isolated ‘home’ cages. Blood samples were taken from the catheters in their necks. These procedures were repeated every day for 10 days in order to create a ‘model’ of chronic stress and to see if daily acupuncture therapy could help reduce stress. 

The BUAV is concerned about an increase in research using animals to test complementary therapies such as acupuncture. Acupuncture is already widely used to treat stress in humans and studies in human volunteers have been carried out to assess its benefits. Experiments like this one in the USA are therefore particularly cruel and pointless.



2. Acupuncture blocks cold stress-induced increases in the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis in the rat. (2013). Journal of Endocrinology, 217(1): 95-104. Original article can be found here: