Acupuncture is one modality that is part of a very rich and collective fundamental medical system, Oriental Medicine (OM).

How Acupuncture effects the body can be explained in western medical terms and in the traditional sense of how and why the medicine was developed.

First, we will discuss the traditional explanation of OM. A person’s health is the result of a harmonious balance of the complementary extremes of yin and yang of one’s life force or Qi. Illness is said to be the consequence of an imbalance of these two forces.  Qi and Energy flows through meridians, or pathways in the human body. The meridians and energy imbalances are accessible through hundreds of acupuncture points on the body. Tiny needles are inserted into these points to help restore the body’s healthy state. The flow of Qi can be disrupted by stress, injury, food, environmental disturbance or past emotional traumas. We carefully select a combination of certain points that opens your meridians, clears blockages and relieves symptoms.

While the benefits, results and ailments treated are the same regardless of how Acupuncture is explained, I find it important to put it in perspective for the Western and Eastern minded alike.

When it comes to a Western approach there are many ways it influences the nerves and cardiovascular systems. A large body of evidence indicates that acupoints have abundant supply of nerves. According to Chen Shaozong, “For 95% of all points in the range of 1.0 cm around a point, there exist nerve trunks or rather large nerve branches.”

The following is a list of mechanisms that have been identified so far:

Acupuncture promotes blood flow.

This is significant because everything the body needs to heal is in the blood, including oxygen, nutrients we absorb from food, immune substances, hormones, analgesics (painkillers) and anti-inflammatories. Restoring proper blood flow is vital to promoting and maintaining health. Blood flow decreases as we age and can be impacted by trauma, injuries and certain diseases. Acupuncture has been shown to increase blood flow and vasodilation in several regions of the body.

Acupuncture stimulates the body’s built-in healing mechanisms.

Acupuncture creates “micro traumas” that stimulate the body’s ability to spontaneously heal injuries to the tissue through nervous, immune and endocrine system activation. As the body heals the micro traumas induced by acupuncture, it also heals any surrounding tissue damage left over from old injuries.

Acupuncture releases natural painkillers.

Inserting a needle sends a signal through the nervous system to the brain, where chemicals such as endorphins, norepinephrine and enkephalin are released. Some of these substances are 10-200 times more potent than morphine!

Acupuncture reduces both the intensity and perception of chronic pain.

It does this through a process called “descending control normalization”, which involves the serotonergic nervous system.

Acupuncture relaxes shortened muscles.

This in turn releases pressure on joint structures and nerves, and promotes blood flow.

Acupuncture reduces stress.

This is perhaps the most important systemic effect of acupuncture. Recent research suggests that acupuncture stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone and signaling substance that regulates the parasympathetic nervous system. You’ve probably heard of the “fight-or-flight” response that is governed by the sympathetic nervous system.

The parasympathetic nervous system has been called the “rest-and-digest” or “calm-and-connect” system, and in many ways is the opposite of the sympathetic system. Recent research has implicated impaired parasympathetic function in a wide range of autoimmune diseases, including arthritis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.”
– Chris Kresser

Benefits Include

Lowered Blood Pressure
Relief from Insomnia
Increased Energy
Reduced Stress
Headache Relief
Reduced Neck Tension
Fewer injuries due to repetitive strain
Reduced Eye Strain
Enhanced Mental Clarity
Reduced Smoking Cravings
Improved Immune Systems
Relieve Joint Pain in the Arms, Hands, and Feet
Reduced Back pain