How Does Acupuncture Work?
It’s certainly effective medicine…but HOW does acupuncture work?
Chinese Medicine and the practice of acupuncture have a fascinating history that extends 5000 years before the present. Here are some of the key points to consider:
- Performed advanced human dissection for study
- Amassed a wealth of anatomical and physiological knowledge via autopsy
- Identifed of all of internal organs
- Mapped the entire musculoskeletal system
- Understood the vascular system and even grasped the concept of immunity.
- Understood the central nervous system including the brain, spinal cord and related nerves and understood their role in communicating messages to other parts of the body.
And keep in mind, many of these achievements occurred 2000 years before the Western world’s understanding of the same concepts!
So, how does acupuncture work? Let’s discuss a few of todays modern scientific theories…
The Science Behind Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture: Biomedical Perspective
Augmentation of Immunity Theory
Acupuncture boosts Immune Function by raising levels of triglycerides, specific hormones, prostaglandins, white blood counts, gamma globulins, opsonins, and overall anti-body levels.
Endorphin Theory for Pain Control
Acupuncture has been found to be very effective in blocking certain types of pain by stimulating the secretions of endorphins in the body (specifically Enkaphalins).
Certain neurotransmitter levels are affected by Acupuncture. Neurotransmitters are an important group of substances which are secreted by nerve cells in all parts of the body to communicate with other nerve cells. There are many hundreds of neuro-transmitters secreted by nerve cells in the brain which are the subject of intense research in institutes all over the world.
Some important neuro-transmitters are acetylcholine, serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, glycine, glutamic acid, and various types of endorphins, encephalins and prosta glandins. Each neuro-transmitter acts on specific areas of the brain creating different effects. Some of these cause-increased awareness while others depress the brain causing tranquility and sleep.
Acupuncture has the effect of constricting or dilating blood vessels, thus affecting blood circulation. This may be caused by the body’s release of Vasodilaters (such as Histamine), in response to Acupuncture needles.
Gate Control Theory for Pain Control
According to this theory, the perception of pain is controlled by a part of the nervous system which regulates the impulse, which will later be interpreted as pain. This part of the nervous system is called the “Gate.” If the gate is hit with too many impulses, it becomes overwhelmed, and it closes.
This prevents some of the impulses from getting through. The first gates to close would be the ones that are the smallest. The nerve fibers that carry the impulses of pain are rather small nerve fibers called “C” fibers. These are the gates that close during Acupuncture, thus reducing your experience of ‘pain’.
Motor Gate Theory
Some forms of paralysis can be overcome by Acupuncture by reopening a “stuck” gate, which is connected to an Anterior Horn cell. The gate, when closed by a disease, stops motor impulses from reaching muscles.
Homeostasis Is the Name of Game
Your body’s cells require a constant state of internal homeostasis, or internal balance. Most cells can only tolerate very small variations in temperature, acidity and concentration of various substances around it. The kidneys, the liver, the endocrine glands and the skin maintain the internal environment of the body. Acupuncture exerts a strong homeostatic effect to restore your body’s natural healthy balance.
Examples of Homeostatic Balance on the Body:
- Balancing your breathing rate
- Balancing pulse rate/blood pressure
- Urine formation & excretion
- Sweating/body temperature control
- Ionic balance of the blood and many other vital substances
Pure Acupuncture Therapy is a Denver Tech Center Acupuncture Clinic servicing Greenwood Village, Centennial, Parker, Cherry Hills and South Metro Denver.
Call Joanne, Licensed Acupuncturist, today for a complementary consultation!