How Acupuncture Works
Overall findings show acupuncture to be:
- Has a Long History (3,000 years)
- Has Long-lasting effects
- Is Very Grounding
Eastern medicine can fill in some of the grey areas western medicine is at a loss how to treat. Acupuncture has the unique ability to wake up the body systems and gently nudge them to function more efficiently. It has been researched extensively with favorable results, and found to be a safe treatment option for MD referral.
The understanding of acupuncture’s many mechanisms of action are beginning to emerge in the scientific and health communities. The findings show a multiplicity of effects as body systems respond, simultaneously or in a cascading fashion, to needle stimulation. What follows is a progression of subtle shifts that influence the chemical and electrical signaling to behave in a more coherent manner. In other words, acupuncture can help the body’s efforts to achieve homeostasis.
The Immune | Circulatory | Nervous Systems
Primarily, the act of needling sets of the body’s response to micro-injury.
This cascade starts with the immune system, which goes into high alert when it senses the needles as in, “hey, that’s not self!” This sets off a cascade of reducing inflammation and increasing immune-modulation activity locally. When the immune system gets activated the circulatory system responds by dilating local blood vessels to allow immune-modulators to hop on board and get to the the “injury” site faster. Add to this very early research findings of acupuncture analgesia, aka pain relief, because it compels endorphin release, which inhibits incoming pain signals. The nerves are stimulated by increased blood flow, increasing their activation and growth.
The Fascia Connective Tissue
At the same time, the mechanical force of the needle into the soft tissue sends a signal to the brain, which then instructs the body to produce more new cells of that type at the needled site.
The Brain | Endocrine | Nervous Systems
Perhaps the most interesting area where acupuncture has long lasting effects is the nervous system. Acupuncture affects the HPAA (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal-axis), the Limbic System, and the somatosensory system in a way that allows parasympathetic supremacy, something our bodies need, particularly in our busy 21st century lives. In broad terms, Eastern Medicine looks at the organs and body systems in relation to each other versus the Western model that looks at each system and organ in isolation. When it comes to the emotions, this research opens a promising area of discussion because it indicates proof of psychological change. Stay tuned: I have a feeling we’re going to find out more as the brain continues to be researched.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of findings by the western science community. To find out more about acupuncture, visit the National Institutes of Health: http//:www.nih.gov.