Acupuncture, though thousands of years old, is still a mystery in some respects. Luckily, it’s getting substantially more research these days after its efficacy is getting more and more substantiated for a number of conditions.
According to the Center of Spirituality& Healing at the University of Minnesota, in traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is linked to the belief that disease is caused by disruptions to the flow of energy in the body, known as qi (“chee”). The qi can be released by acupuncture needles (or acupressure) stimulating specific acupuncture points on the human body. The qi can then travel through meridians, or channels, around the body. (source: http://www.livescience.com/29494-acupuncture.html).
Hospitals and medical clinics in the West are not based Chinese medicine, however, and have proposed alternative hypotheses:
- Neurotransmitter Theory: Acupuncture affects higher brain areas, stimulating the secretion of beta-endorphins and enkephalins in the brain and spinal cord. The release of neurotransmitters influences the immune system and the antinociceptive system.1,2,3
- Autonomic Nervous System Theory:Acupuncture stimulates the release of norepinephrine, acetylcholine and several types of opioids, affecting changes in their turnover rate, normalizing the autonomic nervous system, and reducing pain.4,5
- Vascular-interstitial Theory:Acupuncture effects the electrical system of the body by creating or enhancing closed-circuit transport in tissues. This facilitates healing by allowing the transfer of material and electrical energy between normal and injured tissues.3
- Blood Chemistry Theory:Acupuncture affects the blood concentrations of triglycerides, cholesterol, and phospholipids, suggesting that acupuncture can both raise and diminish peripheral blood components, thereby regulating the body toward homeostasis.3
- Gate Control Theory:Acupuncture activates non-nociceptive receptors that inhibit the transmission of nociceptive signals in the dorsal horn, “gating out” painful stimuli.6
We may not have all the answers yet, but more clinical research is coming out every year on the efficacy of acupuncture.
The above research was taken from GoodMedicineEugene.com, and supplied by AcuPerfect.com. Their citations are as follows:
- Neuro-acupuncture, “Scientific evidence of acupuncture revealed”, Cho, ZH., et al., 2001.
- Acupuncture – A scientific appraisal, Ernst, E., White, A., 1999, p. 74.
- Acupuncture Energetics, “A Clinical Approach for Physicians”, Helms, Dr. J., 1997, pgs 41-42, 66.
- Anatomy of Neuro-Anatomical Acupuncture, Volume 1, Wong, Dr. J., 1999, p. 34.
- National Institute of Health Consensus Conference on Acupuncture, “Acupuncture Activates Endogenous Systems of Analgesia.”, Han, J.S., 1997 (Bethesda, MD).
- Neuro-acupuncture, “Scientific Evidence of Acupuncture Revealed”, Cho, ZH., et al., p.116.
Absolute Wellness Center in Eugene, OR offers chiropractic medicine, sports medicine, naturopathic medicine, physical rehabilitation, acupuncture, and therapeutic massage. To learn more about whether our Eugene acupuncture might benefit your health, give us a call at 541-484-5777.