Acupuncture is a component of traditional Chinese medicine that originated in China over 2,500 years ago. It is based on the belief that living beings have a vital energy, called "qi", that circulates through twelve invisible energy lines known as meridians on the body. Each meridian is associated with a different organ system. An imbalance in the flow of qi throughout a meridian is how disease begins.
Acupuncturists insert needles into specified points along meridian lines to influence the restore balance to the flow of qi.
In 1997, acupuncture needles were reclassified from "experimental" to "medical device" by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The National Institutes of Health released a consensus statement in the same year endorsing acupuncture for the treatment of a variety of conditions such as post-operative pain, tennis elbow, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Acupuncture is one of the best known of the alternative medicine therapies.
How Acupuncture Works
From the modern perspective, diseases and injuries are resolved by a complex set of responses; the responses are coordinated by several signaling systems. The signaling systems mainly involve peptides and other small biochemicals that are released at one site, travel to other sites, interact with cells, and stimulate various biologically programmed responses. Rather than blockages of circulation described in the old Chinese dogma, diseases are understood to be caused by microorganisms, metabolic failures, changes in DNA structure or signaling, or breakdown of the immune system. Some of these disorders are resolved by the cellular functions that are designed for healing, while others become chronic diseases because the pathological factors involved have either defeated the body’s normalizing mechanisms or because something else has weakened the body’s responses to the point that they are ineffective. For example, poor nutrition, unhealthy habits, and high stress can weaken the responses to disease.
Modern studies have revealed that acupuncture stimulates one or more of the signaling systems, which can, under certain circumstances, increase the rate of healing response. This may be sufficient to cure a disease, or it might only reduce its impact (alleviate some symptoms). These findings can explain most of the clinical effects of acupuncture therapy.
According to current understanding, the primary signaling system affected by acupuncture is the nervous system, which not only transmits signals along the nerves that comprise it, but also emits a variety of biochemicals that influence other cells of the body. The nervous system, with over 30 peptides involved in transmitting signals, is connected to the hormonal system via the adrenal gland, and it makes connections to every cell and system of the body.
- acupuncture stimulates the release of pain-relieving endorphins
- acupuncture influences the release of neurotransmitters, substances that transmit nerve impulses to the brain
- acupuncture influences the autonomic nervous system
- acupuncture stimulates circulation
- acupuncture influences the electrical currents of the body
Conditions Treated By Acupuncture (but are not limited to)
- migraines and tension headaches
- sinusitis, common cold, asthma, allergies
- addictions, quit smoking, weight loss
- trigeminal neuralgia, Meniere’s disease
- constipation, GI issues (upper and lower)
- tennis elbow, arthritis
- sciatica, low back pain, hip pain, knee pain, frozen shoulder
- women’s health, infertility
- nausea, vomiting
- sports injuries, muscle spasms
- depression, anxiety, stress