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How does Acupuncture Work?

Updated: Apr 4

It is a very good question, as western medical science does not have good explanations other than acupuncture releases natural pain-relieving molecules and neurotransmitters such as endorphins, enkephalin, and dynorphin. It explains, to some degrees, how acupuncture relieves pain, but it does not explain how acupuncture can regulate menstrual period, reduce severity of asthma, aid in a variety of digestive issues, or help people sleep better.


Acupuncture helps the body to better heal itself. Acupuncture is the most powerful system ever developed to spark the body's own internal resources to help squeeze more good out of what nature gives us. Dr. John Longhurst at University of California Irvine has done 40 experiments over the past 20 years to understand how acupuncture and electroacupuncture affect the blood pressure. He found through both animal and human subjects that acupuncture has bi-directional regulating effect. Meaning for people and animal with high blood pressure, the set of acupuncture points helps bring the blood pressure down. What they were amazed to find out is that the same set of points can help bring the blood pressure up for people with low blood pressure. When the same set of points are applied to people with normal blood pressure, it did not make a change. Dr. Longhurst concluded that acupuncture helps the body maintain homeostasis. Furthermore, Dr. Longhurst mapped out how acupuncture is received in the brain. The acupuncture signal travels from the peripheral nervous system to the spinal cord to the brain stem to the limbic system where pituitary glands and amygdala reside. When receiving acupuncture, different neurotransmitters and chemicals are released from the limbic system for people with high and low blood pressure. Essentially, acupuncture works by helping the brain to see what kind of imbalance is in the body so the brain can make better decisions on how to use the body's own resources to bring it into a better balance. The medicine is in our body. Acupuncture helps the body to make that medicine!


Acupuncture works by helping the body fall back into a deeper and more stable state of function. Think about how you feel after a deep restful night of sleep, or if you have been doing things you love outdoors on a perfect spring day, or if you have a fight with someone you love and now every little thing is off. We know from our own experience that there are states of being where we feel vital and life itself simply flows through us. Acupuncture can bring us to that kind of state where our body, with its innate intelligence, simply moves us into greater state of health and wellbeing. You could say our bodies and minds have a blueprint for health. Acupuncture helps us to reconnect with that blueprint for health by bringing a deeper balance to our neurological and endocrinological systems.


Some people say it’s like magic. It is not magic. It is medicine. You don’t need to believe in it for it to work. I do encourage you to bring an inquiring mind and judge the effectiveness by yourself based on the results that you get.



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