The Science of Acupuncture
The field of acupuncture research is not as large as pharmaceutical research, but it is growing. Each year, many new studies reveal more about how this “magical” medicine works with promising results for this natural therapy. Let’s see what science says about acupuncture.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
From the Chinese medicine perspective, acupuncture works by creating a healthier balance in the body through qi’s flow and direction (energy). But how does science explain this?
When placed, acupuncture needles cause damage to the impacted tissues. When this tiny microtrauma occurs, the body responds to the “damaged area” with a small electrical current. Acupuncture points or certain trigger points are actual anatomical structures where the resistance to the flow of electricity is less. Therefore, through acupuncture you increase the flow of electricity through those areas.
Every cell in your body function on the basis of an electrical dimension. Some cells or tissues respond by direct nerve stimulation, whereas others by the exchange of ions (sodium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus) across a cell membrane. It is known that wherever there is an “imbalance, blockage or pathology”, the tissue is less resistant to the normal flow of electricity and ion exchange. Therefore, there is diminished cellular function, lack of nutrients as well as oxygen uptake. It can also result in a build-up of toxins, as waste products from cells are unable to be metabolised out of the cells.
Think of a river, electricity flows much like water – it flows around an obstacle and takes the path of least resistance. This is the same within the body, electrical currents within the body will pass an area of blockage or injury. Therefore, if we can boost the flow and provide more electricity through that area you can jump start the cellular respiration. Acupuncture is about restoring balance and optimising the electrical flow through the body.
In addition to that, it is well documented that endorphins are released into the circulating blood following acupuncture. The euphoria, relaxation and pain relief that is experienced right after acupuncture is related to the endorphin releases.
Acupuncture also releases tight or tense muscles. For issues like pain and stiffness, acupuncture needles can stimulate the muscle to release tension and trigger points. This is why PEMF therapy (pulsed electro magnetic field) supports the movement of these stagnant areas via electrical currents.