How does acupuncture work?
One of the most common questions when people are introduced to acupuncture is “How does it work?” Although acupuncture has been around for the last 3,000 years, there has only recently been scientific evidence that can verify its claims of renewed health and vitality.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the body is full of meridians that act as conduits for the flow of Qi, vital life energy. When Qi is blocked at specific points throughout your body, it causes disease and disharmony. By inserting needles at points along your meridians, an acupuncturist will release blockages and improve your health.
The only problem with this explanation is that meridians don’t correspond to any actual lines discovered in Western medicine. For years, scientists in the West have been testing acupuncture to see if it works. Now that several studies have proven that acupuncture does help in a variety of situations, they are searching for an explanation.
There are five basic theories about how acupuncture works based on current scientific theory.
The first is the Neurotransmitter theory. This theory states that since acupuncture affects the higher brain areas it stimulates the secretion of beta-endorphins and enkephalins into the brain and spinal cord. The neurotransmitters are released into your system and have a direct effect on your immune system and energy level.
The Autonomic Nervous System theory states that acupuncture releases norepinephrine, acetylcholine and other types of opioids. This affects your nervous system and reduces pain throughout your body.
The Gate control theory says that acupuncture works because it activates the nociceptive receptors that prevent the transmission of signals. Once these signals are blocked, pain is reduced and the patient feels better.
The Vascular-interstitial theory concerns the electrical system of the body. Acupuncture treatment stimulates the electrical system of your body. It creates closed-circuit transport within the tissues of your body. These transport pathways carry electrical energy between normal and distressed tissue.
The Blood chemistry theory postulates that acupuncture can change the blood concentrations of triglycerides, cholesterol and phospholipids. This means that acupuncture has the ability to affect blood components and urge the body toward homeostasis and balance.
No matter what the explanation is, the most important thing is that acupuncture does work successfully. Countless studies have proven its effectiveness in a variety of situations, from weight loss to migraines.