In its most fundamental sense, acupuncture is the balance of mind, body and soul. Known as the “Three Treasures” in Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is when these are balanced that we experience optimal health, vitality, peace of mind and fulfilment.

The premise of acupuncture is that there are energy channels, called meridians flowing through the body that are the basis of our health of these three treasures. If the energy (also called qi) is flowing smoothly and evenly through these channels we are symptom and disease-free. Obstructions in these channels are like a dam in a river, they block the natural flow of qi and cause pain, symptoms and disease.

Acupuncture points are like power centers within each of the channels and contain a higher electrical conductance. By needling these points, the flow of energy in the body is unblocked, balanced and strengthened to promote self-healing, elimination of pain, and restoration of natural function.

How Acupuncture Works

In the past few decades, scientific research has proven the physiological mechanisms of this 2,000 year old medicine. Acupuncture works to alter biochemical and physiological conditions in the body in the following ways:

  • Reduces stress by stimulating the Parasympathetic Nervous System
    Stress has been linked to inflammation, and nearly all health conditions and chronic diseases. Acupuncture helps to mitigate the negative effects of stress on the body by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. This part of our central nervous system is the opposite of the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ sympathetic nervous system that is activated during stress. By restoring balance between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system, we are able to manage stress better with fewer negative physiological effects.

    In addition acupuncture helps regulate many involuntary functions of the parasympathetic nervous system that occur when the body is at rest. These include digestion, elimination, urination, salivation, lacrimation (release of tears) and sexual arousal.

  • Changes in the endocrine system and brain chemistry
    Acupuncture regulates the HPA axis (Hypothalamus- Pituitary- Adrenal) and changes the way that neurotransmitters and neurohormones are released. Stimulation of the HPA axis helps regulate hormones in a number of different health conditions such as infertility, menopausal symptoms, insomnia, thyroid disorders, adrenal fatigue, depression, anxiety and other stress related disorders.

    Neurotransmitters like serotonin, and neurohormones like endorphins released during acupuncture relieve pain, regulate emotions and help promote a general sense of well being.

  • Changes in blood flow
    Acupuncture increases circulation and can stimulate blood flow to a particular area, which explains how it helps to reduce pain, promote healing and restore normal function.
  • Release of opioids
    Opioids are chemicals naturally released by the body that reduce the sensation of pain. Research has found that during acupuncture several types of opioids are released.
  • Other
    Additional documented effects of acupuncture include decreased inflammation, increased T cell and NK (Natural Killer) cells to benefit the immune system.

For more information about Acupuncture, read my article Discovering Acupuncture.