Acupuncture works on several levels. Some of which are easily explained and some of which aren’t.
The easiest way to describe how acupuncture works is borrowed from current scientific research.
Blood circulation: When an acupuncture needle is inserted into an acupuncture point there is an immediate increase in blood circulation at the point. This result is quite effective in cases of muscle strains, tendonitis or local tissue damage. The increase in circulation will help to heal damaged muscle and/or connective tissue.
Electrical activity: When an acupuncture point is stimulated by a needle, electrical activity can be measured at other sites along the acupuncture meridian or channel. The electrical activity can travel along a meridian at the rate of about 1 to 10 centimeters per second. Research into electrical activity between acupuncture points along a meridian suggests a unique communication network exists. Electrical stimulation is widely used as a method of treatment to encourage healing and manage pain.
Chemical activity: When an acupuncture point is stimulated, a nerve ending is excited causing the brain to release chemical messengers responsible for healing and pain relief. Hormones including serotonin, noradrenalin, cortisol, endorphins and enkephalins work together to provide a natural method of relief from pain and swelling.
Blood chemistry: Acupuncture has an effect on the natural chemicals that are released into the blood stream. It can raise blood sugar levels when they are low and lower blood sugar levels when they are high. Acupuncture can decrease blood levels of circulating triglycerides and cholesterol. These findings suggest that acupuncture plays a role in helping the body regulate itself and maintain a healthy balance.
Immune response: Acupuncture has been shown to help fight off invading infections. It does this by enhancing the activity of certain cells that are essential for your immune system. The response of natural killer cells, met-enkephalin and T-lymphocytes to acupuncture has been identified as the way that it influences the immune system.
Meridian theory: The practice of classical acupuncture has evolved over thousands of years. Models of health, disease and harmony within the universe remain at the forefront of acupuncture treatment. Essential to these theories of health and wellness are the meridians, or energy channels, that exist within the human body. Although these energy channels have never been identified by modern science, virtually every practitioner of acupuncture accepts their existence. Energy is directed through a network of meridians that coordinate the function of the human body. The only difference between life and death is the energy that flows through our body. Acupuncture can help to influence the way energy is distributed. In cases of disease and/or pain, there has been an interruption in the flow of energy – acupuncture works to correct this imbalance.