The traditional Chinese theory behind acupuncture as medical treatment is very different from that of Western medicine. In traditional Chinese medicine, imbalances in the basic energetic flow of life – known as qi or chi (chee) – are thought to cause illness. Qi is believed to flow through pathways (meridians) in your body. These meridians and the energy flow are accessible through approximately 400 different acupuncture points. By inserting extremely fine needles into these points in various combinations, acupuncture practitioners believe that your energy flow will rebalance. This will allow your body’s natural healing mechanisms to take over.
Western Medicine’s View on Acupuncture
In contrast, the Western explanation of acupuncture incorporates modern concepts of neuroscience and researchers at the National Institute of Health are studying at least three possible explanations for how acupuncture works:
Opioid release. During acupuncture, endorphins that are part of your body’s natural pain-control system may be released into your central nervous system – your brain and spinal cord. This reduces pain much like taking a pain medication.
Spinal cord stimulation. Acupuncture may stimulate the nerves in your spinal cord to release pain-suppressing neurotransmitters. This has sometimes been called the “gate theory.”
Blood flow changes. Acupuncture needles may increase the amount of blood flow in the area around the needle. The increased blood flow may supply additional nutrients or remove toxic substances, or both, promoting healing.
If you would like to discuss whether acupuncture is a suitable treatment for your symptoms please feel free to get in touch.