What is Acupuncture and How Does it Work?

Acupuncture is a holistic medicine that has been used to diagnose, treat and prevent illness for 3,00 years. Acupuncture focuses on what is called qi (pronounced chee). Qi is the vital energy in all living things. Qi flows through pathways, called channels and meridians nourishing and energizing the organs and entire body. When the body is healthy and the emotions are balanced there is a free flow of qi and blood, which nourishes the body. When there are biological heath conditions, poor diet, emotional instability, trauma and stress the free flow of qi and blood become impaired, resulting in illness.

Acupuncture uses pre-sterilized, disposable needles to stimulate different points. These points each correspond to a specific organ in the body. When these points are stimulated they strengthen and harmonize qi, therefore balancing the organs and unblocking areas of stagnation (where qi and blood is stuck, often times causing pain or discomfort). Stimulating points along the meridians restores balance and improve the body’s natural ability to heal.

There are many theories to explain this ancient medicine. Some people conceptualize this flow of qi with the analogy of water ways- you can picture what happens when a dam is created in a river. The water takes a new route and may not make it to the far away creek. The creek may dry up or the water may rise and rise until the dam is forced open causing the water to go crashing down the river. All of these scenarios disrupt the ecosystem. This imbalance is similar to what happens within our bodies. 

Acupuncture's mechanism of action is unknown. Volumes of research do show a correlation between the insertion of acupuncture needles and the release of endorphins, the body's natural pain relievers. It is also believed that acupuncture increases the levels of serotonin and histamine which promote a healing response. Another commonly accepted theory is that by inserting the needle a nerve is stimulated, causing the release of neurotransmitters, therefore influencing communication between cells within the body.