How Does Acupuncture Work?

The energy of life force is called Qi (pronounced chee). Qi is the intelligence of life that naturally flows in cycles and rhythms. It is harmonized in the body by a balanced lifestyle and modalities such as qi gong ( the practice of moving qi), tai chi, acupuncture, acupressure, etc. When the flow of qi is balanced a person feels well and energetic. When qi is blocked pain ensues. Qi can be influenced and balanced by stimulating specific points on the body. These points are located along channels of energy known as meridians. Organ meridians are qi energy flows that connect all of our major organs and influence the tissues and fluids such as muscle, bone and blood. According to Chinese medical theory, illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced or is blocked.

Acupuncture points are areas of where more electrical conductivity is noticed. It has been measured that inserting needles at these points stimulates various sensory receptors that, in turn, stimulate nerves that transmit impulses to the hypothalamic-pituitary system at the base of the brain. Beyond what is physical and can be measured, qi also influences our emotions and clarity of mind.

The hypothalamus-pituitary glands are responsible for releasing neurotransmitters and endorphins, the body’s natural pain-killing hormones. It is estimated that endorphins are 200 times more potent than morphine. Endorphins also play a big role in the functioning of the hormonal system. This is one reason why acupuncture works well for back pain and arthritis and also for P.M.S. and infertility. The substances released as a result of acupuncture not only relax the whole body, they regulate serotonin in the brain which plays a role in human and animal disposition. This is why depression is often treated with acupuncture.

Some of the physiological effects observed throughout the body include increased circulation, decreased inflammation, relief from pain, relief of muscle spasms and increased T-cell count which stimulates the immune system.