How Does Acupuncture Work?

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It’s a medicine that has been used for at least 2000 years, and for a while it seemed like its mechanisms were a mystery, but through research there continues to be more light shed on the topic. Here’s what we know today:

We each have 365+ acupuncture points strategically placed on the surface of the body. Locations of acupuncture points contain a high concentration of nerves, blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and mast cells. Ancient Chinese physicians recognized that these acupuncture points could be stimulated to relieve pain and treat internal organ problems.

  • Acupuncture promotes blood flow – this is probably the most significant because the body needs blood and it’s nutrients to heal every aspect of the body
  • Acupuncture stimulates the body’s own need to heal itself – needles create “micro-traumas” that the body responds to by awakening the nervous system, the immune system, and the endocrine system (hormones) to promote widespread homeostasis
  • Acupuncture releases natural painkillers – inserting a needle sends a signal through the nervous system to the brain to release endorphins that provide an analgesic effect, which can be much more effective than medications!
  • Acupuncture relaxes shortened muscles – this in turn releases pressure on joints and allows for more blood flow to heal the area
  • Acupuncture reduces stress – acupuncture stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (this part of the nervous system is often referred to “rest and digest” or “calm and connect”). Impaired parasympathetic function is seen in a wide range of autoimmune diseases.

Stay tuned in the following weeks to learn about how acupuncture works for specific conditions, including pain!

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