How does it work?

Acupuncture treats disease by stimulating certain nerve receptors (acupuncture points) in the superficial body tissue. This stimulation is generally accomplished by barely inserting eyelash-thin needles. Once the needle is properly in place, the patient will feel a characteristic pressure, dull prick sensation or, sometimes, a light shock sensation. Sometimes, an electronic device may also be used to maintain a constant stimulation. In addition, the therapeutic effects of Moxibustion – produced by the heat and the fumes of a slow burning moxa-wool roll or stick held near an acupuncture point or the diseased area – may also prove useful.

Acupuncture normalizes the bio-energy – or Qi (pronounced chee) – of the body. The Qi flows through pathways (called channels) that connect the superficial tissues and internal organs of the body. Fourteen major channels circulate in the body and convey electromagnetic bio-energy to its organs, enabling them to function. If the energy flow of a certain meridian is excessive or deficient, the function of related organs will suffer and symptoms of illness will result. The Yin (negative) and Yang (positive) energies of the body must be balanced for anyone to maintain a state of good health.

Acupuncture allows us to intervene to achieve balance in the organ functions by stimulating certain acupuncture points and using the body's electrical "response" to adjust the meridian systems. In fact, according to the meridian theory, doctors not only use acupuncture and herbs to treat diseases, but also to strengthen the human body's physiological condition, to prevent disease, to promote health, and to achieve longevity.

The Mechanisms of Acupuncture

The human body is formed by the union of many different tissues and organs from many kinds of cells. These associate together and collaborate to preserve the functional activities of the body such us locomotion, digestion, respiration, and defensive procedures. The connections between the various systems are made, generally, through the nervous system, whose center is the brain, which controls and regulates all the body functions. Hence the organism responds as a whole to the changes of the center

If the function of the nervous system is in good enough condition, it will adjust and keep very good adaptation and easily maintain health. For example, if there are any pathologic organisms invading the body (like a bacteria or virus), the body will immediately undergo a series of responses, including changes in body temperature, changes in white-blood cells for defense and an increase in evacuation and detoxification responses. Sometimes, the proper adaptation reactions can worsen the state of the illness if the nervous system is not adjusting precisely. Symptoms, like diarrhea for example, are normal defensive responses to disease to help rid the body of disease. Cholera, for example, can be cured with the elimination of the pathogens infecting the body through diarrhea. However, if this normal process becomes excessive, it can cause the death of the patient because of dehydration. In soft tissue inflammation, excessive muscular spasms will cause poor blood circulation and provoke a vicious circle, aggravating the inflammation.

If the body loses its capacity to balance its reactions properly, a problem may arise and provoke an illness. For example, people with allergies can have drastic reactions caused by a small antigen. Unbalancing of the central nervous system, which can be caused by anxiety or stress is a common precursor to hypersensitivity. Illness then is the result of the interaction between the afflicting agents and the result of the response ability of the organism, all of which is commanded by the nervous system.

Acupuncture therapy therefore is not only directed to the external agents but simultaneously directed to rebalancing and enhancing the normal response and . Why treatments are not only done on the local areas of the pathological focus, but also treat the entire nervous system, stimulating the recuperative capacity and rebalancing mechanism of the entire body.

Recently, some of the more prominent research aims at understanding the mechanisms of Acupuncture.

1. Acupuncture alters the blood circulation. Once one stimulates an acupuncture point, the regional circulation is altered providing micro dilatation of capillaries and promotes local blood circulation of those related tissues, associated with some degrees of muscle relaxation thus relieving inflammation and pain.

2. Some acupuncture points, upon stimulation, promote the release of hormones such as cortisol, endorphin, encephalin for example, providing analgesia and help subside inflammation.

3. Acupuncture helps the general immunity. When faced with external aggression, the body responds through immunological mechanisms. A number of experiments in animals have shown that acupuncture helps by promoting a quicker response and an increased phagocyte activity.

4. Acupuncture regulates and normalizes an organism’s functions. Diverse functions of a human being are interrelated. Any disturbance can alter this relationship with a subsequent manifestation of symptoms and diseases. Acupuncture stimulation can reestablish this relation and promote healing.

5. Acupuncture promotes normal metabolism. In certain diseases, there are alterations in the metabolic states of organs resulting in excess or deficiency of energy or function. Acupuncture permits the recovery of this metabolism and thus is important in the curing process.

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