Acupuncture: Why Does It Work?

If you’ve ever considered giving acupuncture a go, you’ve probably wondered how it works.

The technique is an ancient medical intervention dating back to thousands of years, yet it’s still used widely today.

The age-old discipline evolved through years of observation and creativity, as well as experimentation and it work by stimulating certain specific and non-specific (Ashi points) points on the body.

Are the Needles Long?

Acupuncture is generally performed using specialised needles of various lengths and sizes – but they’re really nothing to worry about as they’re extremely fine needles you can barely feel.

The needles penetrate the skin to various depths, to alleviate pain or to address health conditions, according to a Chinese medical diagnosis. This will follow a thorough assessment or consultation and different stimuli are employed during the treatment itself to stimulate various points of the body. These can include acupressure techniques, lasers, sound, electric frequency, herbal injections and different frequencies of light.

Is There Any Research About Acupuncture’s Effectiveness?

Numerous studies have been carried out to prove or disprove the effectiveness of acupuncture for medical reasons. Of course, the scientific evidence keeps revealing new information regarding bio neuro-chemicals and other factors. This may mean acupuncture is a viable option for anyone suffering with a condition or complaint.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture points are located on trajectories that are carriers of vital energy interconnecting and interfering with all aspects of our body and mind.

This energy can be regulated near the surface of the body by several channels or meridians. These connect hundreds of acupuncture points as a network of information from and to the body and brain and each point will have an effect on the organs and glands. They may also affect the lymphatic, circulatory and nervous systems, as well as the bones, joints, muscles and tissues, the skin, immune and digestive systems, and emotional and cognitive functions of the patient.

Recent studies claim that specific neural pathways transmit acupuncture stimulation to distant body areas via the central nervous system, which may support the traditional meridian system. There is a histological or anatomical distinction regarding these energy pathways, as they can now be identified with various tools, such as electrical conductivity amongst the different channels. This is supported by the National Science Council in Taiwan.

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Will Acupuncture Help You?

Acupuncture remains a controversial field of research and more studies are being conducted to explain the existence of the technique today. One is via the modern physiology field, with “neural hypothesis” being recommend. Meridians claim that this is trigger transmission, primarily through stimulation of sensory nerves that stimulates signals to the brain, which response with a certain biofeedback in response to the treatment.

A study with over 18.000 volunteers – from the Archives of Internal Medicine (2012) – suggests that acupuncture has been found to be effective in treating chronic pain. Similar research suggests that acupuncture has a strong effect on pain due to its natural stimulation of body’s own endorphins, serotonin, cortisol, ACTH, anti-inflammatory and immune modulating factors.

On top of this, further papers claim that acupuncture may stimulate self-regulatory body mechanisms, independent of the treatment’s objective, points, means or methods used. This would, of course, account for acupuncture’s reported benefits in a huge variety of pathologic conditions.

And Another Breakthrough…

Another huge scientific breakthrough is the responses of nitric oxide-cGMP releases over acupuncture points to stimulation.

Nitric Oxide (NO is a molecule that our body produces to help our 50 trillion cells to communicate with a signal transmission throughout the body. NO is a fundamental regulator of vascular tonicity and blood flow in peripheral and local circulation, the importance of which has been well reported in clinical studies.
Considering the effects of acupuncture on local perfusion, an involvement of NO in the acupuncture mechanism can be suggested as a part of the acupuncture mechanism for therapeutic purposes.

The Traditional Chinese Medical system claims: “Qi (energy) acts as the commander of blood and blood acts as the mother of Qi.” This is an overview description of the effects of Qi on blood and it can be employed to include the ideas that Qi controls the blood, promotes blood production and circulation and has certain changes in regulating both body and mind. If we imagine the NO is Qi, which in Chinese could be loosely interpreted as (Gas), then the scientific findings so far may be attempts of explaining what the Chinese knowing all along as a part of Traditional Chinese Medical discipline.

I personally gave acupuncture a go for the first time while I was pregnant with Harry, it was when I was around 16 weeks pregnant and I realised that my morning sickness just wasn’t going to go away and was beyond normal sickness, I was being sick up to 10 times a day and had been placed on tablets for HG, with the threat of hospitalisation for fluids due to dehydration. I was prepared to try anything I could. I found it actually helped me, I was able to keep foods down for a while and warded off the hospital threat.

I did need to visit twice a week as the effects would wear off after a while however it helped and I didn’t have to keep taking tablets which is something I wasn’t keen to do while pregnant.

Are you interested in giving acupuncture a go and discovering if it can work for you too?


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