Olivecronas väg 5
 Sabbatsbergs Sjukhus  
 113 82 Stockholm
 e-mail: info@faab.to
 phone: +46(0)346 36100


FAAB was founded in Kungälv outside Gothenburg in Sweden 1989.
The aim was to support research and education in acupuncture and related techniques.

"Stiftelsens ändamål är att främja och stöda forskning och utveckling inom akupunktur och alternativa biologiska behandlingsmetoder samt liknande verksamhet”

One of its founders was professor Sven Andersson MD PhD.

Sven Andersson (1927-2007).
Line drawing by Thomas Lundeberg

Sven Andersson, professor in Physiology at
Gothenburg University, has died at the age of 79 after a long illness. Professor Andersson was born in 1927 in Gesäter in Dalsland, in the western parts of Sweden. He started his medical studies in Göthenburg, where he remained throughout most of his career. Professor Andersson began his scientific career in the neurophysiology section of the Physiology department at Gothenburg University. His initial research was focused on the motor system, and during 1959-60 he was based at Vernon Mountcastle’s laboratory in Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, USA. In Mountcastle’s laboratory he learned to register the activity in individual nerve cells in the somatosensory cortex. He used this technology later for his doctoral dissertation on the role of spinal reflexes in somatosensory processing. Professor Andersson was awarded his doctorate in 1962 and became senior lecturer in Physiology at

Gothenburg University in 1963. In 1969 he was appointed associate professor in Physiology, and
1979 he was awarded the chair. He was acting Head of the Physiology Department at Gothenburg
University from 1979 to his retirement in 1992.
For many years he was active in training medical
personnel in acupuncture and received several
awards, including the Life Academic Award for
Chinese Medicine in 1996, for his great contribution to enhancing scientific research in the field of acupuncture.
Professor Andersson was perhaps most wellknown
for his important initiatives in pain research
and his focus on the sensory nervous system’s
influence on the regulation of pain and autonomic
tone. Early in his career he became convinced that acupuncture is an effective method of pain control based on the activation of the body’s own systems, and this area dominated his interests from the early 1970s. Over the years that followed, his reputation grew and he became distinguished for his research into the fundamental mechanisms of acupuncture and its pain alleviating effect. His commitment to pain research also led to his involvement in assignments in international commissions and committees and for many years he was a member of the board of the International Association for the Study of Pain, the most important meeting point for the world’s pain researchers and clinicians interested in pain. For several years he also served as vice president to its Scandinavian equivalent, the Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain.
As a teacher and research tutor, Professor
Andersson was highly regarded, and supervised a
large number of doctoral students through their
dissertations. He established the Foundation for
Acupuncture and Alternative Biological Treatment
Methods, a non-for-profit charity that for many years served as the sole Foundation for grants in
acupuncture in Sweden. He made significant
contributions to the Foundation and thereby to

acupuncture research and the development of
physiologically based acupuncture. Professor Andersson emphasised the empirical basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine and when trying to explain TCM he would tell the story of how the Vikings tried to explain lightning and thunder. According to the Vikings, Thor the god of thunder, son of Odin and a member of the Aesir, smashed giants’ heads with his mighty hammer, thereby causing lightning and thunder: in other words, the lightning and thunder is for real but the rationale given is not.
He suggested that the failure to study acupuncture scientifically and to prove or disprove its claimed effects was the reason for its rejection by many in the Western scientific community. He was one of the frontrunners in this field, winning acceptance in Sweden in 1985, for the use of acupuncture in treating pain. Professor Andersson was convinced that acupuncture could be integrated into mainstream medicine, and that a prerequisite for this was that the mechanisms of acupuncture could be explained in terms of endogenous systems. He was one of the first people to suggest that acupuncture effects must devolve from physiological and/or psychological mechanisms that had biological foundations, and that needle stimulation (acupuncture) could represent the artificial activation of such systems. He tried to elucidate what kind of sensory stimulus was most similar to acupuncture, and he suggested that acupuncture excites receptors or nerve fibres in the stimulated tissue, which are also physiologically activated by strong muscle contractions, and the effects on certain organ functions are similar to those obtained by protracted exercise. Both exercise and acupuncture, according to Sven Andersson, produce rhythmic discharges in nerve fibres, and cause the release of endogenous opioids, essential to the induction of functional changes in different organ systems. Professor Andersson also reported that betaendorphin levels, important in pain control as well as in the regulation of blood pressure and body
temperature, have been observed to rise in the brain
tissue of animals after both acupuncture and strong
exercise. He was also inspired by the fact that

experimental and clinical evidence suggest that
acupuncture may affect the sympathetic system via mechanisms at the hypothalamic and brainstem levels, and that the hypothalamic beta-endorphinergic system has inhibitory effects on the vasomotor centres. He also demonstrated that there was a poststimulatory sympathetic inhibition that reached a maximum effect a few hours after acupuncture and which could be sustained for more than 12 hours. This powerful inhibition of sympathetic tone is probably one of the most important effects of
acupuncture in the treatment of diseases, and will
show the way for future research. Professor Andersson’s standpoint was that without a solid physiological basis and randomised controlled trials, acupuncture would not achieve general acceptance in the Western medical community. His solid scientific background and authority made him an outstanding advocate for this method and his initiatives were crucial in order to get acupuncture accepted within Western medicine. A Chinese proverb says: ‘A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’ He took that step in acupuncture research and it is up to us to follow in his footsteps. Sven Andersson often spoke highly of his wife, his two daughters and his grandchildren. To him, marriage was the ultimate partnership that should be given the proper attention and nourishment it needs to survive and thrive. He was a man of few words but was given to acts of great kindness. He would stand solid as a rock, at his beloved Nösund, when it became stormy, and still exercise discipline and firmness. He was the proud grandfather riding the tractor with his grandchildren, or sitting on the veranda overlooking the sea, or fixing whatever needed to be fixed. Sven Andersson could be characterised by the words of William Wordsworth:
‘That best portion of a good man’s life: his little,
nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.’
His firm handshake and brilliant mind remain in
our memories, and every time the lightning strikes
and thunder roars, I´ll turn to the sky and know that
he is watching over us.

Thomas Lundeberg
Acunpuncture in Medicine 2008;26(2):128-129.