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  • Writer's pictureCraig Amrine L.Ac.

How Acupuncture Really Works

The question I am asked most often is "How Does Acupuncture Really Work". The easy answer is "It depends". On what? Well, on how you see the world and your role in it. From a traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, I can very easily explain the theory behind acupuncture using words like "Qi", Meridians, and the underlying principals of Yin and Yang. To most Americans, however, these concepts are unfamiliar...so we try a different approach.


My alternative answer is from a bio-chemical approach. To put it simply: Acupuncture needle stimulation at very specific points to induce very specific chemical reactions in the body. In modern terms, virtually of our physical and emotional functions rely on chemical responses. Modern research has shown that acupuncture can strongly influence these chemical responses in both the body and brain. Specifically, acupuncture has been shown to affect the chemistry in several biological functions including:


Pain Control: Acupuncture can induce a flood of our natural pain-killers (endogenous opioids) including Endorphins, Dynorphins, Enkephalin-1, and Dynorphins; allowing acupuncture to be highly effective in reducing pain.


Neurotransmitters: Neurotransmitters that affect our behavior and emotional health have been shown to be strongly influenced by acupuncture. Specifically, acupuncture can influence levels of dopamine, seratonin, GABA, Norepinephrine, Acetylcholine, Glutamate, Oxytocin


Inflammation: Our inflammation mechanisms is a product of our immune response and involves a complex process chain of chemical messengers called cytokines. Acupuncture is highly effective in reducing inflammation through influencing these cytokines by increasing anti-inflammatory cytokines and suppressing pro-inflammatory cytokines.


Autonomic Nervous System: This system is involved in our regulatory functions including digestion, heart rate, and blood pressure. Studies have shown how acupuncture can strongly influence these functions by improving digestion like IBS or GERD, lower blood pressure and even regulate heart rate and calm A-Fib.


Endocrine System and Fertility: Acupuncture has been shown to strongly influence such as insulin, thryoid hormones, and reproductive hormones. As a result acupuncture can be used to influence fertility and IFV, vastly improve menopause symptoms, and even decrease ovarian cysts.


This list demonstrates the influence that acupuncture can have on our bio-chemical systems and helps us explain why acupuncture can can be used to address such a wide range of medical conditions.




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