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How Does Acupuncture Work?

Electricity can be transmitted in two ways: through wires (similar to telephone wires) or through the air (similar to radio waves). The electricity that flows through "wires" in the body flows through the nerves. The electricity that doesn’t flow in "wires" operates through the acupuncture system.

The acupuncture points are similar to dams on a river. When we are healthy, the acupuncture system functions like a smoothly flowing river with all the dams open. When we are injured, are exposed to bacteria or viruses, eat poorly, or are unable to appropriately express emotions, one or more acupuncture points is effected. Instead of allowing the river to flow through, one or more dams close. This blockage of the river then effects whatever is in the vicinity of the point (muscle, tendon, ligament, blood vessel, organ, endocrine gland, etc.) and causes a malfunction of that structure or system. The body experiences this as pain or disease.

The acupuncturist, after a careful diagnosis of the problem, stimulates the related acupuncture points with very thin stainless steel needles, heat, pressure, or electricity. This unblocks the acupuncture points, enabling the energy to flow through the acupuncture system. The body is then able to heal the damaged physical structure or system more quickly and efficiently.

Western medical research has thus far been unable to effectively explain acupuncture’s mode of action upon the body. One theory suggests that acupuncture stimulates the body to close certain "gates" in the central nervous system thereby blocking pain impulses from reaching the brain. Work in the field of biochemistry has shown the existence of opiate-like receptors (endorphins) in the central nervous system. When stimulated by acupuncture, these receptors produce analgesia similar to morphine analgesia. Neither of these theories explain the specificity of point choice in treating painful disease nor do they explain acupuncture's effect in treating non-pain related diseases or in health maintenance.