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Acupuncture: How Does It Work?

Health & Wellness
Last Updated Aug 25, 2020

Acupuncture is becoming an ever more popular natural therapy but how exactly does it work?  Read on to find out more about this amazing therapy.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Acupuncture works by utilising specific points on the body that act as gateways into the body's energy systems.  These points, when stimulated, allow the practitioner to correct imbalances and restore harmony, not only to the affected area, but to the body as a whole.  Acupuncture can be used to help improve a person's natural healing abilities, to help with recovery from disease or illness and as a preventative measure in order to keep a person in good health.

Medically, acupuncture works by regulating the various systems in the body, such as the hormonal, nervous, immune, circulatory, respiratory, and muscular systems.  It appears that acupuncture stimulates specific nerve points throughout the body, with these points sending messages back to the brain, which then alters the pain and hormonal systems in response.  It can also raise or lower blood pressure, increase the amount of disease fighting white cells in the body, and stimulate cell growth.

The Gate Control Theory of Pain

According to a theory known as the "gate control theory of pain", pain signals must go through a number of high-traffic "gates" as they move from the area of injury up through the spinal cord into the brain.  These nerves can only handle a certain number of nerve signals at any one time and they travel slowly.  The body can generate other signals which move faster, crowding out the slower ones due to the limited number of signals that the nerves can carry.  By producing enough fast signals, the slower pain signals are crowded out.  Acupuncture creates this competing stimulus or fast signals and effectively blocks the pain signals from reaching the brain.

The Electrical Theory of Pain

Another theory known as the "electrical theory of pain" says that the body continually generates tiny but detectable electrical discharges.  This electrical field influences the growth, maturation, and functioning of some types of cells.  Studies have shown that acupuncture points are concentrated in areas of low electrical resistance, and that there is a correlation between the electromagnetic fields in the body and the energy channels or meridians.  The electrical theory of acupuncture therefore suggests that acupuncture works by influencing the body's electromagnetic fields.  Acupuncture points have certain electrical properties and stimulating these points alters the chemical neurotransmitters in the body.

To learn more about how this therapy work, find a nearby acupuncturist in your area.

Originally published on Jul 10, 2008

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