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How Does Acupuncture Work?

how does acupuncture work?

Understanding the science behind acupuncture and how it benefits physical, mental and emotional health

Have you ever been curious about acupuncture wondered to yourself: How Does It Work? There seems to be a lot of mystery shrouding acupuncture, it’s mechanisms of action and it’s ability to promote healing. The truth is, in addition to acupuncture being an energetic medicine it also has a very scientific basis with strong evidence based literature to support it’s use and explain what exactly happens to the human body after a needle is inserted.

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves the insertion of thin, sterilized needles into specific points on the body, known as acupoints. Acupoints are located on meridians which are energetic pathways that flow through our internal organs. The needles stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities and promotes physical, mental and emotional well-being. But how exactly does it work?

Acupuncture is rooted in the concept of Qi (pronounced “chee”), which is the vital energy that flows through the body. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, when Qi flows freely through the body, a person is healthy. However, when the flow of Qi is blocked, illness or pain will occur. Acupuncture restores the flow of Qi promoting healing and balancing the body, helping you to return to a state of homeostasis. Continue reading to learn exactly how it works…

Acupuncture chart with meridians
There are over 400 acupuncture points located all over the body. Each point corresponds with a different function.

Benefits our Central Nervous System:

One of the ways in which acupuncture works is by stimulating the central nervous system (which consists of your brain and spinal cord). The primary function of the CNS is to regulate the body’s physiologic processes. When needles are inserted into specific acupoints, they send signals to the brain to release neurotransmitters and hormones, including endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers) and serotonin (a mood-regulating chemical). This has a direct effect on the CNS and can help to reduce pain and inflammation, improve mood and promote relaxation.

Enhances the Immune System:

Acupuncture also works by stimulating the immune system. This is done by increasing the production of white blood cells, which help to fight off infection and disease. It is also improves blood flow, which can help to bring oxygen and nutrients to the cells and tissues, which promotes cellular healing and regeneration. So, acupuncture will not only help to lessen your likelihood of becoming sick, but it will also help you to recover faster if you do.

Regulates the Autonomic Nervous System

Additionally, studies have found that acupuncture can also regulate the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which controls involuntary functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and digestion. Symptoms of autonomic nervous system dysregulation include: dizziness, urinary issues, digestive issues (loss of appetite, bloating, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn), excessive sweating or an inability to sweat (difficulty regulating one’s body temperature), exercise intolerance (your heart rate does not adjust to your activity level). Acupuncture needles are able to effectively communicate with the nerves that send messages between the brain and the effected organs. Regular acupuncture treatments can help to reset the ANS, balance the body and promote overall health.  

In conclusion, while acupuncture is an ancient practice, today’s technology has allowed us to explain and understand its scientific basis. It works by stimulating the nervous system, immune system, blood flow and regulating the autonomic nervous system, which can help to reduce pain, improve mood and relaxation. Acupuncture is a holistic approach and a safe, effective treatment option for a wide variety of conditions, however, it’s always best to consult with a Registered Acupuncturist to ensure safe and appropriate treatment.

How many treatments will I need to benefit from acupuncture and TCM?

During your Initial Visit will will do a thorough assessment and health history. Based on this information your acupuncturist will be able to come up with a treatment plan that is specific to your needs and health goals. Generally, treatments will be more frequent at the beginning of treatment when you are in what is called “corrective care.” Gradually, the treatments will become less frequent as your symptoms improve and we shift you into “maintenance or wellness care.”

Give us a call today 905.553.9255 to book and Initial Assessment or visit our website for more information or

Posted in Traditional Chinese Medicine

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