The mechanisms of how and why acupuncture works are profound and varied. When you have an injury or ill-health condition, here’s what can happen from a Western Medical Perspective:
1. Circulatory Explanation: Acupuncture stimulates the body’s innate ability to heal, for example bringing blood and Qi to a distressed area. Blood and Qi are filled with nutrients to help heal damaged tissue.
Example: when you are experiencing inflammation of a tendon or a slight strain of a muscle, the Acupuncturist may insert a needle at or near the site of injury. The stimulation increases microcirculation in the area, thus increasing blood to the tissues that are injured.
2. Neurological Explanation: Acupuncture stimulates the brain: Prefrontal Cortex, Limbic Cortex and Sensory Cortex. The Acupuncture Stimulus (AS) travels to the brain and releases neuro-chemicals: Beta Endorphins and Enkephalin (suppresses pain / the body’s natural pain killers).
3. Musculoskeletal Explanation: Some acupuncture points are located at trigger points in the muscles. These often painful areas get relief when they are massaged, or in acupuncture’s case, needled. Some of the important points are at motor points, which is where the nerve innervates the muscle. These sites would point to the effectiveness of acupuncture being mediated through the nervous and musculoskeletal systems.
4. Immune System Explanation: Research shows acupuncture can help to increase white blood cells. It can also help cleanse the lymphatic system through detoxification.
5. Nervous System Balance: Acupuncture effects the relaxation of the fight/flight response, Sympathetic Nervous System, and promotes the restorative Parasympathetic Nervous System.