How Acupuncture Works

Posted on Sep 9, 2013

How Acupuncture Works

By far the most common question we are asked at the clinic is, “How does acupuncture work?” While this is briefly addressed in our FAQ section, it is asked so frequently that it warrants its own post.


Traditional Chinese Medicine believes that our bodies are made of energy. This energy is contained in channels (or meridians). When there is an imbalance or blockage in our body’s energy, disease results. In this case, disease can mean a cold, pain, hormonal imbalance, fatigue; anything that brings you discomfort. Acupuncture needles are inserted at specific points (or combination of points) in order to restore balance.


Western medicine theorizes that acupuncture works in several ways: it affects endorphines and neurotransmitters, stimulates nerves, and/or creates therapeutic inflammation. These premises are all accurate and there is even some scientific data to back them up. However, these explanations fall short. Our go-to example is the point Urinary Bladder 67. Located at the outside corner of the nail on the last toe, UB67 is typically used for headaches, eye pain, etc. However, it has the additional function of helping to adjust the position of a breech baby. That is not a nerve, neurotransmitter, or endorphine. That has nothing to do with therapeutic inflammation. It is simply one of the beautiful things about acupuncture.


In short, no one really knows how acupuncture works, only that it does. And until a grand, unified theory on acupuncture is discovered, the explanations we do have will have to be enough.


If our appetizer sized portion of information on the workings of acupuncture has left you hungry, check out Between Heaven and Earth and The Web that Has No Weaver to sate your appetite. And, as always, visit our website or contact us with any of your questions!


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