What Is Acupuncture & How Does It Work?

Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of medicine in the world. It has been practiced in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years. Its effectiveness is unquestionable. Western scientists have even proven that acupuncture releases endorphins that have pain-relieving and mood-improving properties. That is just one aspect of this amazing medical treatment that is effective in treating a wide variety of conditions.
Acupuncture practitioners use long, thin needles to treat their patients. They stick the needles in their patients’ bodies along meridian lines. These meridian lines are thought in TCM to be the lines that the body’s energy flows along. The main idea behind acupuncture is that inserting needles at certain points along the meridian lines will bring the body back into balance, treating nearly every possible medical condition.
How Does It Work?
To tell the truth, science still has very little understanding of how exactly acupuncture works. The one thing that is undeniable is that it does work, and it works very well. Scientists have proven that there are changes that happen in the body when the acupuncture needles are inserted.
As well as determining that endorphins are released through acupuncture treatments, scientists have studied changes in the brain during treatments. For example, researchers used a positron emission topography (PET) scan to discover that the area of the brain that controls the gastric system is activated when a needle is inserted in the acupuncture point called ST 36. It just so happens that this point is almost always used by acupuncture practitioners to treat stomach issues as well as other conditions like asthma, depression, fatigue and low immunity levels.
This is one of the few studies that have been done to examine the effects of a particular acupuncture point. There just isn’t that much hard science that has been done to break down the exact biochemical and biomechanical effects that acupuncture has on the body. There are several theories behind how acupuncture generally works.
Regulatory Effect
It is widely accepted that somehow acupuncture has a regulatory effect on the body. Acupuncture treatments always seem to be able to bring balance back to the systems of the body. This balance in the body is known as homeostasis. Our bodies have a natural tendency towards homeostasis. Acupuncture seems to cause the body to release chemicals that accelerate the process of homeostasis.
As previously mentioned, the pain-control aspect of acupuncture has been scientifically proven with the discovery that acupuncture treatments release endorphins in the body. There is also another theory that acupuncture helps to block pain messages from the body by manipulating the nervous system.
Stress and Inflammation
Acupuncture has also been shown to relive stress and reduce inflammation in the body. While the mechanisms behind this process are not understood, it is undeniable that acupuncture treatments are very successful at reducing stress levels and calming patients.
Acupuncture Treatments
One of the neatest things about acupuncture is that it is often successful at treating patients that Western medicine fails to help. It is especially wonderful to bring pain relief to someone who has been experiencing pain for years, or to help someone bring back digestive balance to their systems for the first time in a long time. Acupuncture is an exciting form of medical treatment that everyone can benefit from at some point in their lives.