Anything that has been practiced consistently for millions of years must be pretty effective. That being said, exactly how does acupuncture work?
How Does Acupuncture Work?
If you ask the question, how does acupuncture work, you are going to get a lot of different answers. The answers will depend very much on exactly who you ask and where you ask them. The skeptics answer will speak much of placebos and the power of the mind. The more scientific skeptic will speak of the release of endorphins and neurotransmitters in the brain. Some of the people making money off the use of laser acupuncture in a stop smoking clinic might just admit that they have no idea, nor do they care. The important thing is that it works. Even the skeptics have to, for the most part, admit to that.
The student of Traditional Chinese Medicine has a pretty good idea how acupuncture works. Inside the human body there are 20 channels called Meridians. These are pathways through which a substance known as qi, or vital energy, flows. When the flow of qi is taking place according to design and in harmony with other factors, a person enjoys happiness and health. When something happens to cause a disruption in the flow of qi, illness and unhappiness will most likely result.
So how does acupuncture work to regulate the flow of qi. This is done by the stimulation of one or more points located on the body and also on one of the 20 Meridians. There are more than 2000 of these points. There are a number of different factors that go into understanding exactly how to select the right points for the right treatment. A special form of physical examination is one of them. The examination would look at certain unusual things from a Western perspective like the color and lining of the tongue. A complete understanding of the background and lifestyle of the patient is needed. There are things like the Five Elements and Heat, Blood, and Phlegm levels and types.
Once the diagnosis is made and a treatment plan developed, the actual acupuncture process involves placing very thin stainless steel needles into the point. The needles are not inserted deeply, although the depth of the insertion does depend on the desired response. The needles are sometimes left in place for a certain length of time and sometimes they are rotated. The procedure is mostly painless and the only adverse side effects are a slight chance of surface bleeding. The patients often report an enhanced feeling of well being and sometimes they feel a curious tingling when the proper point is touched with the needle.
The stimulation will cause changes in the internal order of the body. The qi flow will be altered or unblocked, harmful accumulated heat will be released, and any number of other reactions will take place. The end result will be that internal harmony will be restored and the patient will begin to get well again. There are many answers given to how does acupuncture work?, but few of them are seen as critical to the patient who is made well.