What is Acupuncture?
The medical treatment of acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles into specific regions of the body. Along these pathways are acupuncture points. These are locations within the body that contain a high concentration of capillaries and arterioles (blood vessels), lymphatic and mast cells, nerve plexuses (or nerve bundles), and nerve endings.
The effects of acupuncture are many and quite complex. However, simply stated by inserting a needle into an acupuncture point the body creates a response that regulates the nervous system, stimulates the circulatory system, and facilitates various processes in the endocrine system, having an effect on hormones, and several other physiological processes.
Several mechanisms of action related to acupuncture are to:
• Reduce inflammation
• Increase blood flow to targeted areas
• Regulate the nervous system
• Release endorphins and the body’s natural, pain killers
• Modulate the emotion and pain processing centers in the brain (the limbic network and basal forebrain)
• Release histamine, prostaglandins, serotonin, and leukotrienes into blood circulation
Although significant advances have been made over the past ten years, modern research has only begun to understand the complexity by which acupuncture points communicate within the body. As new methods, and technologies become available, doctors and scientists are likely to discover new effects of acupuncture treatment still unknown to science, but seen daily in clinical practice.
Acupuncture: 3,000 Years of Empirical Evidence
Because the ancient Chinese had developed a written language and recorded all of their medical findings, we have over 2,000 years of clinical evidence supporting point locations, channel relationships, treatment options, the healing effects of acupuncture, and more. These written records, along with modern clinical research from such institutions as Harvard and the University of Michigan School of Medicine provide a sound body of evidence to support the safety and efficacy of acupuncture treatment. In fact, there is no other system of medicine in the world that has been utilized for as long, or by as many people as Chinese Medicine.