How Does Acupuncture Work?


The most common definition for how acupuncture works in the west is described in regards to qi and the flow or lack there of through the body. Qi is often referred to as the invisible energy that flows through channels of the body referred to as meridians. Disease is thus the blockages of qi flow either localized or systematically. Qi may also be weak or too strong resulting in disease. Acupuncture, the insertion of small needles into the channels, unblocks and preserves a continuous strong flow of qi. Beyond the mystical description of acupuncture, there is a scientific evidence based explanation for how acupuncture works.

Taking the terminology of acupuncture and translating the concepts into a understandable and practical ideas is essential to gaining a firm understanding of how acupuncture works.

  • First, take the idea of the energy qi and transform the mysterious energy into what is absorbed on each inhale, oxygen.
  • Second take the idea of meridians, the channels in which the mysterious qi flows, and assume they are real, anatomical vessels filled with blood, which is the primary transport of oxygen to the whole body.
  • Lastly the points where acupuncture needles are inserted have been found to be anatomically, bundles of nerves ending, which are stimulated by the needles.

Chinese Acupuncture has three primarily actions, which counter disease: pain relief, reduction of inflammation and homeostasis restoration. Acupuncture succeeds at achieving these effects through a variety of basic mechanisms caused by stimulation of the nerve bundles located at acupuncture points.

  1. The first mechanism of how needles create an effect is vasodilatation to the area of disease.
  2. The next mechanism is the needles stimulate the bodies healing potential to the area of disease. In addition to stimulating healing, the needles also cause a release of the bodies natural pain killing chemicals like endorphins.
  3. Lastly, as anyone who has been to an acupuncturist knows, the sessions creates an environment of total relaxation which can allow patients to let go of any tension being stored in the muscles and take a break from the stress of living life.

To sum it up, qi is oxygen, being inhaled into the body sustaining life. Blood carries oxygen throughout the body through vessels. When oxygen decreases to certain parts of the body disease occurs causing pain, inflammation, and lack of homeostasis. An insertion of a acupuncture needle stimulates the nervous system causing vasodilatation, healing mechanisms, pain killer release, and muscle relaxation, in a proper environment where healing can occur to its full potential.