The Science of Acupuncture: What is It and How Does it Work?
While Acupuncture is effective at treating many different conditions, it is especially effective at pain relief. It is so effective, in fact, that countless medical research has been conducted on how it works and Acupuncture has proven itself time and time again to be a safe, cost-effective, non-invasive and drug-free option in pain management.
Acupuncture works simultaneously in several different ways to effectively treat pain–the symptom AND the cause. The hair-thin pins are placed strategically on the body, including:
- At neuromuscular or gap junctions, which help to activate the muscle to release contractions. This is particularly helpful for contracted muscles that are spasming or pulling a vertebrae, joint or bone out of place. This article talks more about the fascia (the wrapping around the muscles) and how acupuncture helps to release tension and contractions in the fascia.
- Alongside nerve fibers, which will help to repair a damaged nerve or interrupt a misfiring nerve that is signalling the pain receptors to fire even though the injury itself is healed. In other words, acupuncture works directly on the nervous system. This is very effective at treating chronic pain conditions (meaning pain lasting longer than 3 months) or fibromyalgia.
- Alongside blood vessels, in places that have shown to create a biochemical response that open blood vessels and actually repairs damaged vessels! This is pretty remarkable, because it not only treats pain caused by reduced blood circulation, but it also treats blood pressure issues and circulatory-type conditions like migraines, and it reduces the likelihood of stroke and more, because Acupuncture is so effective at restoring the circulatory system. This article talks more about this process.
Acupuncture “needles,” which again are as thin as a human hair and therefore do not hurt, have several actions that occur in the body once they have been placed:
- Release of biochemicals that are antihistamines which downregulate “cytokines” (or inflammatory markers), which means they actually work to REDUCE inflammation in the body. Inflammation, which has many causes, will prolong pain and create flare-ups, as well as degeneration of the joints and bones. Inflammatory cytokines are also responsible for autoimmune diseases like shrogren’s, hypothyroidism/hashimotos, graves disease, etc.; so acupuncture can help treat autoimmune diseases by working directly with reducing these cytokines. This article talks about how acupuncture effectively treats allergic rhinitis using these mechanisms.
- Sends a signal through the nervous system to the brain to release neurotransmitters, like oxytocin, which are the “feel-good” hormones, so that you feel relaxed and pain-free. That is why acupuncture is also effective at treating depression and anxiety. This article talks about some of the research on the effects of acupuncture on pain through this mechanism.
Acupuncture is so effective at pain management because it has MANY mechanisms. An acupuncture treatment is treating the muscles, structural alignment, nervous system, hormones and circulatory system AT THE SAME TIME.
Pain relievers have side effects (foggy brain, constipation, possible addiction, just to name a few) and surgery is expensive and very invasive, and can lead to many days of missed work and insurance hassles. Since acupuncture is safe, effective and drug-free, you owe it to yourself to try it first before moving on to treatments that can be dangerous. This modality of medicine has been in use for over 3,000 years, and there is a reason for it–because it works! Schedule today and see how much better your life can be.